A police pursuit of three suspected shoplifters from the Victoria’s Secret store in Lake Saint Louis ended in Frontenac on Oct, 11 after their getaway car caught fire.
The three suspects were not injured when the 2007 maroon Nissan Altima became engulfed in flames after stopping in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 64 near Spoede Road. The shoplifters were taken into custody by Frontenac police.
Lake Saint Louis police said the suspects entered the Victoria’s Secret store in the Meadows of Lake Saint Louis shopping center at about 12:27 p.m. on Oct. 11 and fled without paying for what may have been about $8,000 worth of clothing and merchandise.
Police tried to stop the vehicle as it traveled east on Interstate 64. But police backed off the chase after the car continued to flee on the interstate beyond Lake Saint Louis city limits.
“We thought it [the car] was going to stop,” Lake Saint Louis Police Chief Chris DiGiuseppi said. He said the vehicle had hit a curb and at least one tire deflated. Typically, city police will not follow a damaged vehicle outside its jurisdiction hoping other police will eventually stop it. They also want to avoid an accident or crash that could harm other motorists, he said.
Frontenac police located the vehicle but the suspects refused to stop. The vehicle came to rest on the interstate near Spoede Road, where it caught fire, possibly due to the heat and sparks from riding on tire rims, DiGiuseppi said.
No one in the store was harmed. DiGiuseppi said thieves are attracted to Victoria’s Secret merchandise, particularly its “PINK” brand. The stolen clothing and merchandise is often sold on the internet.
DiGiuseppi said the Meadows Shopping Center location, like other Victoria’s Secret stores, has experienced a number incidents including at least one armed robbery. “It happens a lot,” he said.