Ashdown, AR - Patrol Car Stolen From In Front Of Officer's Home - Neighbor Finds Suspect In A Ditch With The Patrol Car - Suspect Taken Down At Gun Point

February 6, 2014

It only took minutes for Zachary A. Lee, 31, of Winthrop, to be stopped and arrested last Thursday, after he allegedly stole an Ashdown Police patrol car assigned to Ashdown Police Sgt. Danny Hallett.

According to a report from the APD, the vehicle was at Hallett's residence off Ark Hwy 108 just north of Ashdown, while he was off duty.

Officers are allowed by the department to take vehicles home so the can respond anytime they are needed.

The incident began at 10:28 a.m., and officers had the car stopped by 10.35 a.m.

Hallett's neighbor, Mike Gwin, noticed the patrol car was gone and a pickup truck was parked near Hallett’s house and then spotted the vehicle in a nearby ditch.

Gwin, who was in his vehicle, saw Lee back out of the ditch and said that “when he tried to talk to him, he didn't make any sense.”

Gwin picked Hallett up and then pursued Gwin, who went westbound on Ark Hwy 108.

“Little River County Dispatch quickly alerted all officers in the county, with special attention to officers in the Foreman area, Ashdown Police Chief Doyle Crouch said. “As officers were in route to Sgt Hallett’s home, they received a report that the stolen patrol car had turned around and was traveling East on highway 108.”

Crouch, who was westbound, was the first patrol unit to see the stolen police vehicle.

He stopped his car and Lee stopped the patrol car after seeing Crouch in the roadway with his weapon drawn.

“Within minutes, Ashdown Detectives Zane Butler and Boyd Kennemore, along with Lt. Bobby Walraven, arrived,” Crouch said.

Lee was arrested by officers and taken into custody. A loaded pistol was found in the front seat of the car.

According to Crouch, the car which has a keyless ignition had been left open when Hallett went to get something out of the car, then returned to his house.

”This was an incident that was highly volatile and had the potential for being very dangerous both to our officers and the public. Thanks to the quick response of our dispatchers, officers and one alert private citizen who called in information about the vehicle’s location, everything ended well with no one being injured,” said Crouch.

The incident is under investigation by Arkansas State Police Special Agent Hayes McWhirter.