SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A driver is arrested after crashing his car into a downtown Springfield restaurant during a pursuit Wednesday morning.
The crash happened outside Aviary Cafe at the intersection of Jefferson and Walnut Street around 4 a.m. Greene County deputies say the driver of a black SUV crashed into the side of the restaurant after deputies pursued him. The car wedged in between another car and the restaurant.
"They ended up getting away from the deputies but they located them a short distance later crashed into the building," explained Greene Co. Sheriff Jim Arnott. "He abandoned the vehicle, there was a short foot-pursuit, and the suspect's in custody."
That suspect was Evan Thomas Mareth, charged with four felonies including tampering, leaving the scene of an accident, resisting arrest and property damage.
Mareth was also charged with possession of drug paraphenalia and the Suburban was confirmed to be stolen out of Arkansas.
This latest incident follows three more stolen car pursuits by Greene Co. on Monday night that resulted in four arrests, adding to Springfield's notorous ranking as 8th in the country in number of cars stolen.
"It is a problem," Arnott said."But a lot of the problem can be fixed. We don't have a lot of the old time car thieves that hot-wire vehicles."
Instead, it's people leaving keys in the car or leaving their cars running while they go into convenience stores. And the numbers keep climbing despite efforts to educate the public.
Those efforts apparently aren't sinking in.
"It doesn't and that's unfortunate," Arnott said. "And I know cold weather is here so people are gonna want to start their vehicle and go inside. Think twice about it if you value your vehicle and what's in it."
If your car is taken, it's probably being used in nafarious ways.
"The main thing we see with stolen vehicles is they're used to commit other crimes," Arnott said.
As for this crash, Arnott said the decision to pursue was based on the fact that it was four in the morning with little traffic.
"A lot of vehicles you don't hear about is because we don't pursue them because of traffic conditions or some type of other circumstance."