Theft attempt from Columbia dealership thwarted by police

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An attempt to steal vehicles from the George Weber Chevrolet dealership on Old State Route 3 in Columbia early Saturday morning was thwarted by police, with three suspects who fled on foot eventually taken into custody.

Shortly before 4 a.m., Columbia police responded to the dealership for a report of a white Audi Q5 SUV with multiple individuals making entry after breaking the front glass door. A cleaning crew working inside the building called police.

Upon police arrival, the SUV – with Missouri plates EF5 K7P – fled from the scene with two suspects inside the vehicle while leaving behind three other suspects who ran on foot north toward I-255. Vehicle keys were scattered across the George Weber dealership lot.

Columbia police pursued the SUV north on Old State Route 3 to the southern end of Dupo and then onto I-255 northbound. An Illinois State Police Emergency Radio Network broadcast requested area police units to assist. The pursuit continued onto Route 157 westbound in Cahokia with Sauget police assisting. Sauget police continued to pursue the SUV before terminating as the vehicle crossed into Missouri.

The SUV was determined to have been stolen from an auto dealership in Ellisville, Mo., and was reported to not have the rear back glass. The suspects were described as black males wearing masks.

Dupo police apprehended one of the three suspects – a juvenile from St. Louis – who fled from the dealership on foot shortly after the incident occurred, Columbia police said.

At about 9:45 a.m. Saturday, Columbia police received a call that two black males were observed climbing the fence along I-255 near the Route 3 ramp to Columbia. Columbia and Dupo police arrived in the area and determined these individuals were related to the George Weber dealership incident. The two males – also juveniles from St. Louis – were taken into custody.

Capt. Matt Jany of the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force said all three juveniles – ages 16 and 17 – have been charged with burglary, vehicle theft (conspiracy) and criminal damage to property.

The suspect vehicle was found abandoned in downtown St. Louis.

The Metro East Auto Theft Task Force and ISP are investigating the incident with assistance from Columbia police.

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