Man caught after stealing running car in parking lot

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published February 25, 2015


FRASER — When a local man had trouble finding marijuana inside a convenience store, he stole a running vehicle in the parking lot instead.

On Feb. 17, at about 7:50 p.m., Spencer Johnson, 23, of Fraser, was inside an unnamed store at 14 Mile and Groesbeck Highway.

Johnson approached a random man and asked him if he knew where to find “weed.” The man replied by saying he did not.

The man, whose identity was not revealed, had gone inside the store to grab a few items. He had left his car running in the parking lot, and the doors were unlocked.

After Johnson approached the man and didn’t find what he was looking for, he left the store.

The complainant reported to Fraser Public Safety that he paid for his items, walked outside and saw Johnson drive away in his black 2014 Ford Explorer.

Fraser Lt. Dan Kolke said the man did not explain to police why he left his car running and the doors unlocked. Kolke said “he just didn’t use common sense.”

“It used to happen a lot when people would start their cars in the driveway and go inside to warm up, but it doesn’t happen as much because of remote starters,” he said. “We recommend to never start a vehicle and leave it unattended” unless you own a remote starter and the doors are locked.

Kolke said that on the morning of Feb. 18, the man had gone to a gas station at 14 Mile and Gratiot Avenue and saw Johnson there with his truck. He called Fraser police, who notified nearby Roseville officers of the situation.

A Roseville officer found the car parked, but by the time they went after it, Johnson had drove off.

Kolke was in an unmarked car and saw Johnson in the stolen vehicle, and police from both departments pursued him. Johnson was caught after he got into a minor accident at Gratiot and Masonic, in which nobody was hurt but the Explorer was damaged.

The car was towed and the owner was notified.

Johnson faces one count of unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle, which is a possible five-year felony. He also faces one count of fleeing and eluding for his second offense. That charge carries a possible 10-year sentence if convicted.

He was arraigned Feb. 19 in 39th District Court and given a bond of $50,000. His next court date is March 4 for a probable cause hearing.

At press time he requested an attorney but did not yet have one assigned to his case.