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New scanner snags stolen car

Two Pinellas sheriff's cars  and three civilian vehicles were damaged during the 21-mile, two-county chase.

Published August 2, 2006

Pinellas County's new high-tech license plate scanners late Tuesday night picked up a stolen 2001 Chevrolet Impala from Orange County, starting pursuit that ended with two Pinellas patrol cars rammed and three vehicles smashed in South Tampa.

Jeffrey Washington, 25, and Dorian Matthews, 32, were arrested early Wednesday, according to Tampa Police. Washington faces a host of charges, including grand theft and aggravated battery.  Matthews was held on a drug charge.

The incident began about 10:42 p.m. Tuesday when Pinellas County deputies spotted a stolen Chevrolet Impala at the intersection of Park and Seminole boulevards in Seminole. Using license plate scanners the department got last week, police learned the car had been reported stolen in Orange County.

When the driver stopped at a gas station, deputies manuevered their cruisers around the car. That's when Tampa Police said Washington slid into the driver's seat and led deputies on a pursuit that covered more than 21 miles and crossed the Howard Frankland Bridge. Deputies lost track of the car near Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa.

At Swann Avenue near Memorial Hospital, the stolen car struck an Astro van and a sport utility vehicle, damaging all three vehicles, according to Tampa Police Sgt. Joe Caravella.

"The Impala came right in front of us and just hit (the van)," said Mauricio Midence, 16, a passenger in the Astro.

Washington fled on foot but was captured nearly three hours later hiding in a yard, Caravella said. Matthews was arrested at the scene, he said.

[Last modified August 2, 2006, 10:31:52]

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