Man swipes cop cruiser, crashes

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A man stole a police car in South Los Angeles today, then slammed it into a Starbucks coffee shop, a light pole and a parked car in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles, losing a leg in the crash, which left the vehicle in pieces.

The crash at 1298 S. La Brea Ave., near San Vicente Boulevard, happened at 3:56 a.m., according to Officer Mike Coleman of the Los Angeles Police Department‘s Wilshire Station and Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The 25-year-old man who stole the cruiser in the LAPD’s Southwest Division was hospitalized in very critical condition, LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said.

Smith said the man, whose name was not immediately released, was facing a number of potential charges, including felony grand theft auto.

The suspect was the only person injured in the crash, said Sgt. Monte Houze of the LAPD’s West Traffic Division.

The patrol car was not being chased by police at the time of the crash, according to Houze. The cruiser, which veered into the Starbucks before coming to rest on the street, was left mangled and virtually unrecognizable as a police car.

Officers were conducting a robbery investigation in the 300 block of South La Brea Avenue when the man got into the unattended patrol car and sped off.

About 10 minutes later, the vehicle crashed while traveling at a high rate of speed, Smith said.

Smith said the circumstances of the incident were under investigation, adding that there was no “hard and fast” rule about an officer leaving the keys in a patrol car.

La Brea Avenue was closed to traffic from San Vicente to Olympic boulevards while an investigation was being conducted.

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