Police: Stolen car, teenage thief found in Indiana

SARANAC LAKE — A local teenager allegedly stole a car from a Church Street driveway last week and drove it all the way to Indiana before that state’s police pulled him over for speeding and arrested him.

Village police say they’ve obtained a warrant charging Tyler Hooker, 18, of Saranac Lake, with fourth-degree grand larceny. He reportedly posted bail in Indiana and will face the charge here at a later date.

Saranac Lake police Chief Charles Potthast Jr. said his department received a report last week that a 2013 Infiniti M37 had been stolen from the driveway of 118 Church St. sometime between 11 p.m. April 9 and 6:30 a.m. April 10.

“Initially, we didn’t know who stole it,” Potthast said. “Where we directed our investigation was to track the car.”

Police entered the stolen vehicle into a nationwide law enforcement database. Officers were able to track the vehicle using license plate readers, coordination with New York State Police and transactions from a credit card that was left in the vehicle and belonged to its owner.

“It was used to try and make various purchases,” Potthast said. “Some were refused; some were accepted.”

Around 8 a.m. April 11, Indiana State Police stopped a westbound 2013 Inifiniti on Interstate 80-90, also known as the Indiana East-West Toll Road, for traveling 103 mph in a 70 mph zone. Sgt. Trent Smith, a spokesman for Indiana State Police, said the driver, Hooker, told police he had borrowed the car.

Troopers ran the registration, found the car was stolen and took Hooker into custody. He was booked into the Elkhart County Jail on $6,000 bail. Potthast said Hooker made bail and was scheduled to appear in court in Indiana.

“They’re going to take care of the charges first, and then we’ll charge him here,” the chief said. “The (Indiana State Police) stop was fortunate, but I think it culminated from the effort we put in to try and track the car from the beginning.”

The chief said he doesn’t know where Hooker was planning to go with the car.

“The answers he gave the trooper were superficial,” Potthast said. “He made a story up about why he had the car, whose it was and that he had permission to take it. We don’t really know what his intentions were.”

This is the second time in as many months someone has allegedly stolen a car in Saranac Lake and taken it far away, “but we got them both,” Potthast noted.

In early March, state police in Ulster County arrested Charles D. Ulacco, 40, of Vermontville, after he was found with a Jeep Wrangler that was allegedly stolen from the Stewart’s Shop parking lot in Saranac Lake. He’s facing a grand larceny charge.

This is Hooker’s second run-in with the law since November of last year. He was arrested then by village police for allegedly breaking into Amusement and Vending on Woodruff Street and stealing $500 in cash and coins. He also allegedly tried to break into Riverside Pet Supply on Woodruff Street. He’s facing burglary, attempted burglary, criminal mischief and petit larceny charges. That case is still pending, county District Attorney Craig Carriero said in an email, but he declined to give more information because Hooker is a youthful offender.