Police: Car thieves nabbed in Phenix City after high speed chase

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 18, 2014 

Two women were arrested Tuesday morning after leading authorities on a high speed car chase, 16 miles from Columbus to near Seale, Ala., in rural Russell County.

Columbus Police Lt. Ralph Dowe said the two were pursued after the stolen green Chevy Cavalier failed to stop. Phenix City police identified the suspects as Susan Stafford, 31, and Laleria Johnson, 40. Both were taken into custody without incident after the car was stopped on Highway 431 South near County Road 26. Stafford is charged with one count each of bringing stolen property into the state, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia and reckless endangerment. Johnson faces one count of bringing stolen property into the state.

Dowe said the chase started about 11:30 a.m when a patrol officer attempted to stop the vehicle near the Booker T. Washington Apartments off Veterans Parkway in Columbus. Driven by Stafford, the car soon crossed the Oglethorpe Bridge on the U.S. 280 ByPass into Phenix City. Stafford drove past the old Kmart, took a right and drove back up 14th Street before heading south on 431 South.

“Columbus stayed with them until they got on 14th street in Phenix City, then Phenix City took over the pursuit,” Dowe said. “The Columbus officer fell back, let them take the pursuit and then stayed in the rear of the pursuit.”

Phenix City police said it was about 11:40 a.m. when Columbus police sought help to stop a green Chevy Cavalier reported stolen. Officers taking part in the chase included the Russell County Sheriff’s Office, Phenix City police and Columbus police in the rear.

Dowe said the chase reached a top speed of about 80 mph before the Cavalier was stopped near Seale. No one was injured and the vehicle wasn’t damaged. “Traffic was pretty light,” Dowe said.

Columbus Police Capt. J.D. Hawk said the suspects will be booked into Muscogee County Jail after they are extradited from Phenix City.

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