Wild doorbell video captures homeowner fighting off thief before getaway car runs him down

A Washington state homeowner’s attempt to stop a suspected criminal quickly escalated to hit-and-run mayhem caught on surveillance footage.

(Video: KIRO 7)

Weeks after stepping up to defend his property, South Hill, Washington resident Eric Smith shared the video of a March 3 incident from his own driveway where he had confronted someone sitting in the front seat of his pickup truck. However, within moments he found himself thinking “hang on for dear life” as an apparent getaway car was turned into a weapon.

Speaking with KIRO 7, the man explained how his surveillance system had alerted him to movement in the driveway of his home in the neighborhood south of Tacoma. Considered a “car prowl” because the motive of the suspect remained unknown, Smith could be seen running after the suspect, chasing the individual into the street where, after tackling the unidentified male, a scuffle began.

Within moments, of Smith engaging the suspect in the street, an apparent getaway vehicle backed up and took aim at the homeowner before driving into the man who wound up riding the hood of the car.

“In that moment,” he told KIRO 7, “as soon as the vehicle hit me, I was like ‘Alright, hang on for dear life.'”

Reliving the experience, the resident expressed, “I ended up landing on my feet and the next thing I know…I was like I gotta get the license plate.”

“It could’ve been completely different and I could’ve been injured or even killed,” he went on after explaining how moments earlier, “as soon as I got my hands on the guy, I knew he was a young teenager.”

A statement from Pierce County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Carly Cappetto indicated that someone believed to be “one of the involved parties” had been arrested in a neighboring jurisdiction after a juvenile suspect had been detained.

“Though motor vehicle thefts are not uncommon, we have seen a significant rise in motor vehicle thefts with juvenile suspects.” she stated. “This incident is particularly scary since it shows how bold these suspects are getting and at what costs they will take to get away.”

Cappetto also warned against individuals taking measures into their own hands as Smith had because of the potential of injury, “…we don’t want anyone getting hurt by apprehending these car thieves.”

A March update on attempts to recover stolen vehicles by the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force indicated 11 arrests were made and eight vehicles recovered during the joint effort with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, King County Sheriff’s Office, Tacoma Police Department, Puyallup Police Department and the Washington State Patrol.

Sgt. Jeff Carroll of the PSATTF said in the release, “Auto thefts are a regional issue. We have detectives from multiple agencies within King and Pierce Counties working together to aggressively investigate prolific thieves and get people their stolen vehicles back.”

As for Smith, while an investigation remained ongoing to determine the suspect and motive, he told KIRO 7 that both doors of his truck would have to be replaced but he remained thankful it hadn’t been worse, “Is that really worth your future and possibly someone else coming out and shooting you?”

Kevin Haggerty

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