Bible theft alleged

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 19:00
Police chase plays out in Chugiak

A bizarre attempted car theft ended with a 27-year-old Washington state man in jail after police established an eye-catching perimeter in Chugiak on Sunday, June 2.

Anchorage police said they responded to a report of a disturbance that day at the Security Self Storage on the Old Glenn Highway in Chugiak.

A person later identified as Gideon Merchant pulled up at the business in a small, green sedan later identified as stolen, said police spokeswoman Dani Myren. Merchant left the car carrying items he’d stolen from it: maps, a book, a Bible, and some keys.

He climbed a fence around the storage business and got into a parked minivan inside.

The owner of the van and the business notified police and opened the gate for them, Myren said. Officers entered and yelled at Merchant to get out of the van. He didn’t, and began locking the van doors even as the vehicle’s owner tried unlocking them with his set of keys.

Eventually, officers got the driver side door open and tried extracting Merchant, who had put both hands on the steering wheel as he’d been instructed to do.

He wouldn’t let go, Myren said. An officer started to “lightly strike” Merchant’s hands with a baton to encourage him to loosen his grip, but that only resulted in Merchant moving his hands around without letting go, she said.

Eventually, Merchant exited the van but then he started fighting with officers, hit one on the arm, and ran off, Myren said. Officers set up a perimiter around the area.

Merchant allegedly kicked open a door into a garage at a residence on South Birchwood Loop and was eventually found hiding there after a police dog and the garage’s owner alerted police, she said. Merchant did more than $500 damage to a doorframe, Myren said. The homeowner, with his wife and dog, were home at the time. Merchant was arrested on two counts of first-degree criminal trespass; third-degree criminal mischief; first-degree vehicle theft; third-degree theft; fourth-degree assault; and resisting arrest. He was taken to Anchorage Jail on $2,500 bail.

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