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Alleged truck thief nabbed after chase

COVINGTON - High-tech merged with good, old-fashioned policing last week resulted in Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown clamping handcuffs on an alleged car thief.

Brown said he was out in the southern part of the county Wednesday night just after the tornado hit when dispatchers notified him that OnStar was tracking a stolen vehicle traveling eastbound on Interstate 20. OnStar uses GPS technology to pinpoint the location of a stolen vehicle and advises local law enforcement.

Brown and NCSO Sgt. Tyrone Oliver waited for the vehicle and identified it around exit 90 and began following the driver as he traveled down Ga. Highway 11 and U.S. Highway 278.

"We spotted him and managed to keep him in viewing distance ... but apparently he recognized he was being followed," Brown said, adding that the driver got back onto I-20 westbound. "He went back to Highway 11 and took a sharp left onto Alcovy Trestle Road."

It was at that point that the driver of the truck lost control and drove through a pasture and into the yard of a residence on River Cove Road, the sheriff said.

"The subject jumped out of the truck and fled and Sgt. Oliver and myself pursued him and managed to subdue him," Brown said. "We suspected he was concealing something in his right hand when he ran from the truck. We could tell he was perhaps carrying something - weapons or drugs or something."

According to the incident report completed by Oliver, the suspect was warned to stop or be Tasered, but he ran behind a barn, only stopping when he came to a barbed wire fence. The report said the suspect turned and faced Brown and Oliver, with his right hand up and his left hand in his coat pocket.

"We gave him several commands, but the end result was using the Taser to get him to comply," Brown said.

A search of the area where the suspect fell revealed a 9mm handgun that was reported stolen in December out of Sandy Springs. His coat pockets contained drug paraphernalia and three white pills were found in the suspect's sock. A second gun was found in the glove box of the truck.

Christopher George Little, 28, of 532 New Hope Road, McDonough, was arrested and charged with theft by receiving stolen property (auto), theft by receiving stolen property (firearm), possession of Schedule 1 and 2 drugs (methamphetamine), possession and use of drug-related objects; possession of Schedule 3 and 4 drugs (Xanax), criminal damage to property, carrying a concealed weapon and driving without a license.

Brown said the truck had just been stolen in Lithonia when OnStar picked it up on I-20.

"This is one of the things we face every day," Brown said. "And I want to say, I am a witness to a life-saving tool - the Taser. Had Sgt. Oliver not been in possession of a Taser, we may have had to use other force."

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.