Vandalism, burglaries and vehicle break-ins happen often in Summerville — and sometimes the perpetrators get away with it.
But in the early morning hours Sunday, one Summerville man was determined to not let the suspected perpetrators of late-night vehicle break-ins elude justice. He chased down two men on a 35-mile pursuit before law enforcement caught up with them and made the arrests.
The incident was first reported by Patch blogger Maryann Ferrara.
Patrick (last name withheld at his request) was picking up his wife, Michelle, at her place of work at Azalea Square when he interrupted two suspects allegedly smashing windows of parked vehicles and taking items. The vehicles near Michelle's work had already been broken into when he arrived.
Leaving his wife behind, Patrick drove his truck over to where they heard the breaking of glass. As he approached, a silver car took off, and Patrick pursued.
"When they took off, my plan was to follow them until the police caught up," Patrick said. "I thought they would get them on 17-A. I didn't think it would take forever."
It would take an hour before he saw any law enforcement officers.
The vehicle sped down 17-A, jumped onto I-26 toward Columbia and reached speeds in excess of 100 mph, Patrick said. But, at the next exit of Jedburg Road, the vehicle turned off toward Moncks Corner. Patrick continued to follow them — at this point, he was on the phone with law enforcement as he traveled through four jurisdictions.
He remembered thinking: "I ain't losing these guys, there ain't no way."
Patrick said his determination was rooted in the three break-ins his family has experienced at their Summerville home — break-ins where the perpetrators were never caught.
As Patrick followed the vehicle onto 176 toward Holly Hill, he continued to implore law enforcement to come to his aid.
"I kept asking, 'You do have people coming, right?'" Patrick said.
But it wasn't until the two vehicles reached Holly Hill that Patrick finally spotted an officer of the law: a Holly Hill marked patrol car. As the patrol car passed them going the opposite direction, Patrick flashed his lights. The patrol car turned around to follow and Patrick pulled over to let the officer do his job.
Patrick said the suspects stopped for the police officer and were arrested. In their possession were two duffel bags full of allegedly stolen goods, Patrick said. Patrick and his wife agree: without him taking off after the suspects, they might have gotten away with it.
"I saw these ladies' hearts broken and I saw (the suspects) take off and it was my nature to take off after them," Patrick said. "I know they wouldn't have been caught."
To keep Patrick humble, Michelle said, "You're not super hero status just yet."
"I didn't do it for the super hero status," he said.
Want to read more about Summerville citizens aiding law enforcement? Check out these articles:
- Citizen gives deputy lift to nab suspect
- Father and son make citizen arrest on tresspassers