Alleged tractor thief leads police on hour-long chase
Shiny new John Deere tractors, part of the outdoor equipment display at Holy Martyrs of Japan Church in Bradford. (Miriam King/QMI Agency)
A 37-year-old man who allegedly stole a John Deere farm tractor led Elgin County OPP and other police agencies on an hour-long, low-speed chase early Thursday morning, evading nine cruisers and a spike belt before officers stopped the suspect with a stun gun.
OPP Const. Troy Carlson said police saw the man tooling along in the tractor on the Hwy. 3 bypass at about 4 a.m. and attempted to pull him over.
Things began to get dicey, though, when the man steadfastly refused to stop.
“The tractor went from Water Tower Line, then he got onto an old railway bed north to Truman Line, which is just before the City of St. Thomas border,” Carlson said, “then he came down Dalewood Rd., then he went west onto Shorlea Line.”
He estimated the tractor’s speed at about 40 km/h.
Overall, Carlson said as many as nine cruisers were in on the chase, though they were scattered behind and in front of the runaway vehicle.
With no peaceful end in sight, a spike belt was laid across the road, but the tractor’s tires were too thick for it to work.
Finally, police performed a rolling block, in which cruisers surround the vehicle and slow down in unison, but the man rammed a Chevy Tahoe police vehicle before the tractor was stopped.
A back window that had popped out during the chase offered police an opportunity to use a stun gun and end the drama.
Carlson said he expects multiple charges to be laid. The investigation is still in progress.