KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A string of auto burglaries near Nebraska Furniture Mart in Village West shopping center of Kansas City, Kansas, led to a high-speed chase that ended in a crash injuring two innocent people.
The Kansas City, Kansas Police Department received calls about two people breaking into vehicles in the area of Village West. The department was able to identify the suspect vehicle and a description of the two suspects.
The suspect’s vehicle overturned after it struck another vehicle. The two suspects were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The second vehicle’s occupants received treatment at the scene.
“I have three fractured vertebrae, a laceration on my spleen, bruised lungs and cracked ribs, “Mia Billings said.
Her boyfriend, Henry Kolenda are happy to be alive. He has three fractured vertebrae, broken bones, a concussion and a bruised hip.
Kolenda’s truck was totaled after two burglary suspects T-boned them while fleeing from police.
Police say 15-20 vehicles had been broken into in the Village West area.
“The vehicle that was being pursued was stolen,” Deputy Chief Kent Anderson said. “We’ve been having a chronic problem with auto burglaries in the general area of the Legends shopping mall in the parking lot surrounding there.“
Anderson said an off-duty officer spotted the thieves at a gas station near North 98th Street and Parallel Parkway.
A marked police car pulled in, attempting to stop the vehicle, but the suspects sped off.
“The vehicle pursuit went around Piper Little bit. The speeds were relatively low there, “Anderson said. But once he got onto I-435 and they went south, they got up to 100 mph on the highway.“
Anderson said the suspects turned onto Kansas Avenue, a two-lane road, slowing down a little bit. That’s when the suspects car smashed into Kolenda’s truck.
“I didn’t have time to take my foot off the gas pedal,“ Kolenda said. “So it happened that quick.“
“I just remember tires screeching,“ Billings said.
All four people were taken to the hospital, but are expected to survive.
Billing said it changed their lives. They’re currently not able to work, and she can’t pick up her two-year-old son.
“I’m just happy he wasn’t with us, “Billings said.
Billings and Kolenda don’t blame police, but they do have a message for the thieves.
“Play stupid games, win stupid prizes,” Billings said.
“Why put other people’s lives at risk, when you were the one doing the wrong,” Kolenda said.
“They’ll see their day in court,” Anderson said.
Anderson hopes this is a message to criminals targeting the Village West parking lots. In July, they assigned an officer to solely patrol the area, on foot and in a patrol car.
The Kansas Highway Patrol in investigating the incident. Anyone with information on the burglaries is urged to call the TIPS hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).
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