- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—SALEM — A Salem man who took advantage of a store owner’s kindness by stealing his Volkswagen Routan, then, when spotted by police a week later, led them on a chase in the stolen minivan, is being held in custody.

Christopher Jones, 22, who is listed as homeless, pleaded not guilty to charges including motor vehicle larceny, as well as receiving a stolen vehicle, failing to stop for police, resisting arrest and driving after license suspension during his arraignment Monday in Salem District Court.

On the evening of July 16, Jones went into Salem Vintage Photography on the Essex Street pedestrian mall and asked if he could make phone call, police said. He told the owner that he’d lost his phone and needed to find his friends.

Then, a half-hour later, he returned, asking again to use the phone. But this time, instead of making an actual call, he picked up the receiver and then reached over and swiped the keys to the Routan, which was parked in the adjacent Museum Place parking garage.

When the owner went to the spot where he’d parked earlier in the day, the minivan was gone.

Salem police Detective Charlene Sano recognized Jones on surveillance video and obtained a warrant.

It was a little more than a week later, on July 24, just after 7 p.m. when Salem police spotted the Routan again, in the parking lot of Shaw’s Supermarket on Trader’s Way, which is off Highland Avenue.

The officers from the Salem police special response unit, Patrolmen William Jennings, Thomas Pelletier and Robert Cunningham, noticed that the driver, later identified as Jones, was looking at them out of the corner of his eye as he drove.

After confirming that the Routan was the same one reported stolen on the July 16, they prepared to stop the vehicle.

The Routan pulled over on Swampscott Road, and then, unexpectedly, pulled back out into traffic and took off, heading into Swampscott and then Lynn.

Shortly after police broke off the pursuit, as the Salem officers were returning, they spotted the Routan parked, with its rear sticking out into traffic, in Lynn.

Jones’ passengers, including his girlfriend, were visibly upset and pointed to a yard where Jones had run. They said Jones told them that he’d borrowed the minivan from his aunt.

Salem and Lynn police caught up with the now-shirtless Jones and, after a struggle, put him into custody.

Police also found warrants for Jones from both the Malden and Lynn district courts.

Jones is being held without bail for violating his probation in an earlier case, as well as a total of $7,500 bail in the two new cases.

A probation officer told Salem District Court Judge Matthew Machera that Jones had been placed on probation on Jan. 18, and had completed a drug detox program, but that he’d recently stopped reporting to her as required.

Jones’ lawyer, Paul Woods Sr., said his client told him he had been working at Buffalo Wild Wings in Danvers prior to his arrest.

He’s due back in court Aug. 31.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.


(c)2015 The Salem News (Beverly, Mass.)

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