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Police: Man Arrested For Car Thefts In Hazleton

January 1, 2019
Police: Man Arrested For Car Thefts In Hazleton

A vehicle stolen in Hazleton early Monday morning was found 25 minutes later and the culprit, a wanted man suspected in another car theft, was arrested despite his attempts to flee, police say.

Milton Galarza-Rodriguez, 44, was taken to jail after failing to post $50,000 bail set by Magisterial District Judge Joseph Zola, Hazleton, after Hazleton police charged him with felonies for theft, receiving stolen property, and fleeing and eluding police.

He also faces misdemeanors for unauthorized use of motor vehicles and resisting arrest and eight summary violations.

This marks the latest case of car thefts involving vehicles left running and unlocked, Police Chief Jerry Speziale said. Car owners are reminded to keep their vehicles locked, even while warming them up.

“It’s an easy target. I mean it’s such an easy target,” he said. Thieves will take notice to a vehicle left running and seize the opportunity. Speziale suggested making an extra key and locking one inside if a vehicle is left to warm up, or using a remote starter.

The 57-year-old victim in this latest case left her unattended 2004 Saturn Vue with New Jersey registration unlocked and the engine running on East Second Street, near Garfield, when it was taken at 1:20 a.m.

The victim contacted police stating the compact sport utility vehicle was last spotted traveling east on Second Street, possibly heading to Diamond Avenue.

Officers searched for the SUV, finding it at about 1:45 a.m. in the area of Bennett Court and Hemlock Street.

Officer James Shaw activated his overhead lights and siren to conduct a traffic stop but the driver continued south on Bennett Court without stopping at any intersections, police said. Police said Galarza-Rodriguez was behind the wheel.

He turned east on Maple Street and then north on Cedar Street at a high rate of speed. Upon reaching Diamond Avenue, he turned into the parking lot for Dollar General and headed to the dead end by Morris Lane, according to a news release.

There, at the dead end, Shaw got out of his police vehicle, drew his gun and ordered Galarza-Rodriguez outside.

He refused.

Instead, Galarza-Rodriguez put the stolen vehicle in reverse momentarily before putting it back in drive and drove up a set of wooden stairs and over a slight wall, police said.

But, other officers were on the way to stop him.

Officer Jonathan Leonard was heading down Columbus Court and boxed in the Saturn while Officer Brian Dubin came down Morris Lane. Galarza-Rodriguez was removed from the driver’s seat by Leonard and Shaw.

He had a key for a Ford in his pocket, which belonged to a stolen Ford Escape from the night prior and he was also wanted for state parole violations, police said.

Complaining of injury, Galarza-Rodriguez, was taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton for evaluation. While at the hospital he admitted to stealing the Ford and the Saturn. He told police the Ford would be parked a block or two away from where he was caught. Police said they found it at Garfield and Third streets. The key in Galarza-Rodriguez’s possession was a match for the stolen vehicle.

Shaw suffered an injured right hand while taking Galarza-Rodriguez into custody and was also evaluated.

Police said additional charges are pending against him from city Officer Colton Kishel in regard to the stolen Ford.

Contact the writer:

achristman@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3584

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