SANTA ROSA (BCN) — A Santa Rosa teen who may be connected to multiple car thefts in the city was arrested on Saturday afternoon after leading police on a chase near downtown Santa Rosa, police said.
The suspect, later identified at 19-year-old Santa Rosa resident Mark Niswander, was spotted by a Santa Rosa police detective at about 4 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of Santa Rosa Avenue and Kawana Springs Road driving a reported stolen vehicle, Santa Rosa police Sgt. David Linscomb said in a report.
Officers tried to stop the stolen car, but Niswander evaded police and a pursuit began down Kawana Springs Road and through The Meadows apartment complex on Meadow View Way, Linscomb said.
While leading the pursuit through the apartment complex, the stolen vehicle crashed through a chain barricade and caused several of the posts that supported the fence to become uprooted, Linscomb said.
One of those flying posts struck a female bystander, he said. She was treated at a local hospital for minor injuries and released.
After crashing through the apartment complex, Niswander led officers behind stores in the Santa Rosa Market Place shopping center, Linscomb said. The pursuit ended when the stolen car stopped at a gated footpath on the northern edge of the shopping center, near Colgan Creek, he said.
Niswander then jumped out of the stolen car and continued the chase on foot, trying to hide from officers in the laundry room of a nearby mobile home park near the intersection of Santa Rosa and Colgan avenues, Linscomb said.
Police found Niswander after a short search of the area and took him into custody, Linscomb said. He was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital before being booked into jail, he said.
Officers found stolen property from earlier thefts both on Niswander and in the vehicle involved in the pursuit, Linscomb said. A stun gun was among the recovered items, he said.
There was also a passenger in the stolen vehicle that was involved in the pursuit, Linscomb said, but that person stayed with the car after Niswander fled on foot and was merely detained, then released later.
Niswander was booked on charges of felony evading a police vehicle, driving a stolen vehicle, two counts of possessing a stolen vehicle, possession of stolen property, violation of felony probation and being a felon in possession of a stun gun, Linscomb said.
Police believe that the stolen vehicle Niswander was caught driving is connected to two other car thefts that occurred earlier Saturday in the residential area along Santa Rosa Avenue just south of the downtown area, Linscomb said.
Officers and a field evidence technician investigating the robberies were an hour into handling the recovery of the first reported stolen car when they learned that a second vehicle – the one used in the afternoon pursuit – had been taken from in front of a residence in the area of Santa Rosa Avenue and Oak Street, Linscomb said.
A third stolen vehicle was also found abandoned in the same residential area on Saturday, Linscomb said. All of the stolen cars were Honda Civics and Accords, he said.
Anyone with any information about the vehicle thefts is encouraged to call the Santa Rosa Police Department Property Crimes Investigations Team at (707) 543-3575.
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