Two suspects stole the Valero Locksmith work van Thursday morning and led Nantucket Police Department cruisers on a chase through the mid-island area before ditching the vehicle and escaping into the state forest.
The two suspects, both juveniles, were later identified through surveillance video and apprehended hours later by police.
The owner of the van, Anthony Valero, told the Current he was working at Nantucket High School when the events unfolded.
“I was at work at the school, and I see my van pulling out of the parking lot,” Valero said. “I tried to follow it but they got away from me. Then I started getting phone calls left and right telling me it was in a police chase. It was a couple kids who took it. They pulled up on a scooter. I was just in a little shock seeing my van drive away.”
Valero said the police chased the van down Fairgrounds Road, then to Old South Road, and on to Lovers Lane where they were able to create some separation from the cruisers amid the dust being kicked up on Lovers Lane.
"After turning onto Lovers Lane, the vehicle accelerated rapidly, creating a dust cloud on the dirt road that prevented officers from safely continuing the pursuit," Nantucket Police Chief Bill Pittman said. "However, officers continued to converge on the Surfside neighborhood from different directions hoping to cut off any escape route."
The van was then found damaged and ditched on the Boulevarde, near Pochick Avenue. The suspects were gone, however, having fled into the nearby state forest.
"Officers briefly searched the area however were unable to locate the suspect(s) at this time," Pittman said. "After reviewing surveillance video from the High School, officers were able to identify two individuals, both juveniles, who were involved in the theft of the work van. Both juveniles were eventually located and brought to the Police Station. Once Detectives complete the investigation, the case will be forwarded to the Juvenile Court for review and disposition."
Bob Fahey witnessed the chase as he was on his way to the beach with his fiancé. They were on Old South Road attempting to make a left onto Lovers Lane when they saw a cruiser coming down Old South Road from the opposite direction with its lights on.
“As it gets closer, we noticed the van wasn’t pulling over and we’re like ‘huh, that’s odd’,” Fahey said. “Then we realized the van was going at least 40 to 45 mph when all of a sudden it makes a sharp right turn onto Lovers Lane almost tipping over and hitting the pickup truck stopped there. Two cops come flying by and the chase continues down Lovers Lane leaving a cloud of dust and smelling like burnt tires.”
At some point, the suspects had side-swiped a telephone pole during the chase, causing some damage to the passenger side of the vehicle, and Valero said all of this equipment had been thrown from the walls of the van onto the floor.