Man suspected in Dexter police cruiser theft injured in chase
DOVER-FOXCROFT — The hunt for an armed 22-year-old man who stole a marked Dexter Police Department cruiser during the late morning on Friday, May 11 ended that afternoon when the suspect got behind the wheel of another car and crashed, authorities said.
Police from multiple agencies were chasing the vehicle on Route 15 near the Norton Hill Road in Dover-Foxcroft when it crashed into trees, according to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland. Tyler Tibbetts ended up sustaining serious injuries as he was pinned inside the wreck. First responders worked to free him and a LifeFlight helicopter landed nearby to fly him to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
Route 15 (the Bangor Road) was closed for several hours from the Atkinson Road south to the Norton Hill Road.
The crash marked the end of an hours-long search for Tibbetts, who remained at large for several hours.
Tibbetts allegedly stole a fully marked Ford Explorer with the number “3” on the front fender around 11:30 a.m. The cruiser was found around 1 p.m. several miles away abandoned off Parkman Road in Garland.
Around 2 p.m., police spotted Tibbets driving another vehicle, and then pursued him at high speeds through Dover-Foxcroft until Tibbets crashed. Tibbetts had been wearing handcuffs when he stole the cruiser, McCausland said.
Tibbetts got behind the wheel of the vehicle by squeezing his body through the small partition window between the front and rear seats. He had had been cuffed and placed in the back of the Ford Explorer around 10:30 a.m., after police arrested him on probation revocation arrest warrant at 876 Garland Road in Dexter, Dexter Police Chief Kevin J. Wintle said.
When officers went back inside the house to speak with Tibbett’s girlfriend and a young child, Tibbetts squirmed to maneuver his cuffed hands to the front of his body, then shoved himself through the 11-inch by 11-inch partition window and into the driver’s seat, Wintle said.
The engine was still running to keep the car cool for Tibbetts while he was seated in the back, and Tibbetts sped off, Wintle said.
He abandoned the car less than three miles away on Parkman Road. At 2 p.m., police spotted him driving another car, and Maine State troopers and Dover-Foxcroft police chased him at high speeds until Tibbetts lost control of the car and crashed on Route 15.
Tibbetts was alone and it is not clear how he obtained the second vehicle. No officers were injured in the incident.
Tibbetts’ condition or injuries were not immediately available on Monday afternoon.
Schools in Dexter, Harmony and Athens went into a “soft lockdown” at noon, meaning all outdoor activities moved inside, while teachers and administrators stayed “on alert” near their students. The doors to all school buildings were locked except for a single entrance and exit, said AOS 94 Assistant Superintendent Dr. Pat O’Neill.
“Big thanks to all the agencies assisting in the incident today,” Dover-Foxcroft Police Chief Ryan Reardon wrote in a post on the department’s Facebook page late Friday afternoon. “The subject is in custody and no officers seriously injured. Great team work today by all. It did not matter what badge you had, just the mission. My appreciation to all of you.”
Callie Ferguson of the Bangor Daily News contributed to this story.