By GARY POPP
Two men were arrested Wednesday after stealing an air conditioning unit from Clarksville Little Theatre and taking a responding police officer on a vehicle pursuit for several miles through Clarksville and New Albany, police reported.
Mark Smith, 39, of Pekin, and Edward Higgins, 43, of 1502 E. Elm St. in New Albany, were each arrested following the vehicle pursuit which ended on Spring Street in New Albany after the vehicle slid onto a curb and became stuck.
Dispatch advised Clarksville Police Department about 1 p.m. that a caller reported an air conditioner theft had just taken place from the community theater along East Montgomery Avenue.
The caller also relayed to dispatch operators that the suspects were in a red Chevrolet pickup truck traveling north on Randolph Avenue toward Brown’s Station Way.
A Clarksville police officer saw the pickup truck turning onto Brown’s Station Way, and when he attempted a traffic stop, the vehicle refused to pull over.
After activating the patrol car’s sirens, the vehicle began to speed up to about 65 mph, police reported.
“I continued to follow the vehicle about 2.5 to 3 miles into New Albany, where the vehicle was cutting in and out of traffic in an attempt to get away from me,” according to the police report.
The officer reported the vehicle then made a hard left turn into the Spring Street Dairy Queen and, “... struck about a two-foot curb, jumping the curb and knocking both passenger side tires off the rim.”
The pickup truck continued through the Dairy Queen parking lot and turned left onto Spring Street where the vehicle slid into a curb and became stuck, police reported.
The officer then exited his patrol car and the pickup’s two passengers, Higgins and a woman, “jumped out of the passenger side and laid on the ground.”
The woman was not charged in the incident.
The officer reported Smith, who was still behind the wheel, unsuccessfully attempted to get the truck off the curb.
“I was able to get Smith out of the vehicle and placed into custody before he could get his vehicle unstuck,” police reported.
After Smith refused arrest, the officer took him to the ground and placed him into handcuffs.
Smith was preliminarily charged with burglary, a class C felony, resisting law enforcement, a class D felony, resisting law enforcement, a class A misdemeanor, and reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor.
Higgins was preliminarily charged with burglary, a class C felony.
The men have not yet been officially charged in a Clark County court.