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Police recover stolen vehicle, arrest one

Thursday, August 13, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A man was arrested early Wednesday morning after being caught running a red light, turning off his headlights and driving a stolen vehicle, Columbia police said.

At about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, police said they noticed a 1996 Toyota Corolla heading east on Business Loop 70, "sputtering" along as if it had a flat tire, Columbia Police Officer Jessie Haden said.

The vehicle ran a red light as it turned left onto Range Line Street. It then turned right onto Lakeview Avenue. At the intersection of Lakeview Avenue and Stone Street, the vehicle turned off its headlights and accelerated, Haden said.

After a short chase — only a block-and-a-half — the suspect slowed down and jumped out of the car, which then crashed into a utility pole. Haden said the pole was not seriously damaged.

Police found Gary Austin, 44, on foot nearby and arrested him. Haden said Austin matched the description of the suspect and had scrapes and cuts on his skin consistent with jumping out of a moving vehicle.

Austin was released from the Boone County Jail on bond at about 4 p.m. He was held on a $95 bond for running the red light, a $145 bond for driving without his headlights and a $4,500 bond for a felony charge of tampering with a motor vehicle, Haden said.

The owner of the vehicle has been notified that it was found.


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