The Anchorage Police Department is refusing to release any information on a local resident reportedly run down and injured while trying to stop a thief from stealing a front-end loader.
Why is unclear.
Under Alaska law, hitting someone with a front-end loader in the process of committing a crime would clearly qualify as a felony assault and might spark even more serious charges.
APD revealed the assault in the Department’s “What Not to do Wednesday” feature on Facebook a week ago. APD there reported that a man with a “fleshy human body” tried to stop the theft by standing in front of the loader to block its path.
As a result, the post reported the man was injured.
How seriously was not reported other than that he “bled,” but lived.
“The good guy survived with all of his faculties still intact,” the post said. “The bad guy got caught and went to jail on a whole bunch of charges.”
What those charges were was not reported. Whether the “bad guy” was convicted on any of the charges and sent to prison was not reported.
Craigmedred.news first start asking about his bizarre and apparently unique assault last week. Phone calls and emails to APD spokesman MJ Thim went unanswered until Wednesday when Thim emailed to say it would be a mischaracterization to say the phrase “fleshy human body” suggested a fatboy was rundown by a front-end loader.
“We’ve never described someone as a ‘fatboy,'” he wrote. “It’s an offensive term.”
Other than that, the rest of his email said this in total:
“Thanks for your patience. Apologies for the delay.
“I believe you are referring to a WNTDW post. If so, we don’t have any additional information to release.
“Thanks again and have a great day!”
Thim has been somewhat more forthcoming about what he calls WNTDW posts in the past, suggesting that they are less than thoroughly sourced.
“When we pick the public safety tip for WNTDW, we ask members (officers, detectives, dispatchers..etc.) to share situations they’ve encountered over the years to use as examples of what not to do,” he emailed back in December of 2017. “We pick a few to include in the post. We don’t ask for the names/date/time/location/case number because that’s not the intent of the post. Many of the situations happened years ago.”
A Google search reveals dozens of cases of front-end loaders involved in crimes and a good number of people killed in front-end loader accidents both in the U.S. and abroad, but a case of someone using a front-end loader as a weapon against someone trying to stop a theft would appear unique.
Thim did not answer an email asking why APD would impose a news blackout on such a man-bites-dog story.
APD has been open about the criminal use of front-end loaders in the past. KTVA-News in December reported on one such piece of machinery being employed “as a getaway vehicle in a burglary the day after Christmas, the latest in a series of separate local crimes involving the construction vehicles.”
In the 2018 case, police said 42-year-old Brian Petross used the vehicle to escape a break-in at a hair salon. He was apprehended not long after the heist and charged with first-degree vehicle theft, second-degree burglary and theft, third-degree criminal mischief and reckless driving.
“Detectives determined the suspect stole the front end loader on [Dec. 22] from a secured lot in the 6200 block of Old Seward Highway,” KTVA reported, but there was no mention of anyone being injured trying to stop that theft.
“APD spokesman MJ Thim said…that police had been on the lookout for the stolen construction vehicle since its theft,” KTVA added.
“APD hasn’t seen a recent rise in thefts of construction vehicles, according to Thim, despite previous cases also involving them.
“In June, APD arrested 35-year-old David Hughett on DUI charges after he allegedly drove a front end loader erratically from his workplace.
“Last year, four people who used front end loaders to remove four ATMs from Anchorage banks were sentenced on various federal charges.
“In 2016, police said 38-year-old Joseph Martin used a front end loader to smash the storefront at a Brown Jug liquor store on Northern Lights Boulevard, then took liquor from the store. He was arrested at a nearby RV park after leading officers on a low-speed chase in the loader.”
But none of those stories mentioned anyone injured trying to stop a front-end loader theft because who would try to stop a thief by standing in front of any motorized vehicle unless he was confident he could jump out of the way if the plan went awry?
After all, as APD observed, “The law of physics is very real. Please don’t test it.”