It began Monday, Suffolk police said, in a Dix Hills home’s driveway with the theft of a car left unlocked, keys inside.
It escalated Tuesday in nearby Wyandanch after cops spotted the stolen car: "the driver fled police," and the officers pursued the driver for less than five minutes before aborting over "safety concerns," the department said by email.
The car, a 2013 Toyota Scion, was found abandoned on Deer Park Avenue in Dix Hills. With the help of at least one helicopter and K-9 unit, police continued to search for the driver, who remained at large Wednesday.
That’s all according to the Suffolk police press office, which said by email that the Scion had been reported stolen from the driveway, on Half Hollow Hills Road. The cops, from Suffolk’s first police precinct, spotted the car the following morning.
The department told the Half Hollow Hills school system about "an increased police presence in the neighborhood around Paumanok Elementary School," according to an email sent Tuesday morning by the district, which says the school doors were being kept locked.
The police department did not say how officers determined the car was stolen or how it came to their attention. Nor did the department say the speed of the pursuit.
Pursuits by the Suffolk police are governed by department rules that are meant to factor in road safety.
A 2008 order says: "A pursuit shall be discontinued when there is an exceptional danger to the pursuing officers or the public and this danger outweighs the necessity for immediate apprehension."
The U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice calls pursuits "a dangerous activity that must be undertaken with due care."
Another Justice Department publication says: "For anyone other than a violent felon, the balance weighs against the high-speed chase."
A USA Today Network analysis of deaths connected to police pursuits between 1995 and 2015 showed Suffolk County leading New York State in fatalities relating to crashes during police pursuits of crime suspects, with at least nine deaths in that period.