CULLMAN — Two Cullman County residents were arrested Tuesday, following a short police chase through Cullman that ended on Interstate 65. Three different law enforcement agencies — and even the victim of the alleged crime — were involved in the chase.
Billy John Totherow, 33, and Randy Joe West, 35, were allegedly spotted breaking into a vehicle on Saint Joseph Street at approximately 11 a.m. Tuesday afternoon.
According to police reports, the homeowner spotted the two attempting to enter his vehicle and tried to stop them. Once the homeowner made contact, the two men fled in a separate vehicle — so the homeowner went after them, and called police along the way.
“The homeowner approached them, and the suspects left,” assistant Cullman Police chief Craig Green said. “The victim got behind them and started following them, and called in along the way.”
The chase reportedly wound from Saint Joseph Street, around by West Elementary School, west on Hwy. 278 and finally onto Interstate 65. Police say the chase reached speeds of up to 90-miles-per hour.
“Officers were responding to Saint Joseph Street initially, so it took a few minutes for us to catch up because we didn’t know they were going back north,” Green said.
The victim reportedly stayed in pursuit until police caught up, and Green said the two would-be-burglars pulled over once authorities arrived.
“As soon as we made contact and got to them they stopped, though the vehicle may have had some engine problems that stopped them from continuing, as well,” Green said.
Totherow and West were charged with unlawful breaking and entering of a motor vehicle and theft of property. They will not face charges of attempting to elude, as they stopped once police caught up to them.
In addition to the city police, Green said officers from Morgan County and the Alabama State Troopers were also on hand, in case the chase had continued.
Green commended the officers involved, and though the chase ended peacefully, he discouraged local residents from ever taking law enforcement matters into their own hands.
“He did great getting us a description of the vehicle and suspects, but we would rather handle it ourselves, because there is a liability and safety issue if a homeowner makes chase,” he said. “Each homeowner has to make their own decision, but our advice is to let law enforcement handle it. That’s what we are equipped and trained to do. Law enforcement should be left up to law enforcement, not the general public.”
‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.