Handcuffed Ala. woman steals cruiser, leads pursuit

Police said the woman was able to manipulate the handcuffs to the front and get in control of the cruiser


By Carol Robinson
al.com

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A woman was taken into custody Wednesday morning after authorities said she stole a Birmingham police cruiser and led lawmen on a lengthy interstate chase.

Police identified the woman as 35-year-old Leah Nicole Letson. Authorities said she robbed an elderly man moments before she stole the police cruiser.

A pursuit in a stolen police car started in west Birmingham and ended on I-459 in Hoover Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.
A pursuit in a stolen police car started in west Birmingham and ended on I-459 in Hoover Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. (Carol Robinson, Algo Cameras)

The incident began about 9:45 a.m. when an officer observed a vehicle stopped in the middle of the road on Jefferson Avenue on the city’s west side with what appeared to be an altercation going on inside the vehicle between a male and a female. Sgt. Rod Mauldin said a female suspect was detained and secured with handcuffs inside the patrol unit.

The officer then went to speak with the witness. Mauldin said the female suspect was able to manipulate the handcuffs to the front and get in control of the patrol cruiser. She then fled in the stolen police vehicle.

A pursuit began and traveled to the city’s east side. At some point, the suspect in stolen cruiser got on Interstate 459 near Grants Mill and the chase ended on Interstate 459 southbound near Lake Cyrus.

Dozens of law enforcement officers from several agencies - including the Alabama State Troopers and Hoover Police - were involved in the chase, and Jefferson County’s Star 1 helicopter tracked it from above.

The stolen cruiser final came to a stop after running over several sets of spike strips deployed by police. Letson was taken into custody shortly before 10:15 a.m. No one was injured.

The theft came just four days after a Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service truck was stolen from the bay at Station 8 in Kingston.

Letson is charged with first-degree auto theft and first-degree robbery. She will be held with no bond.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit al.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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