Newspaper rack theft leads to Natchez car chase Wednesday

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2007

Two men hauled off two newspaper vending racks Wednesday and led police on a car chase through the city — likely just for the coins inside.

Natchez Police officers were conducting a routine security check at Trace Town shopping center early Wednesday when they noticed a suspicious vehicle in front of a business, according to an NPD report.

When the officers approached, the vehicle sped off.

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The officers chased the SUV through town, the report stated.

On Liberty Road, The Natchez Democrat’s newspaper rack fell out of the vehicle, the report states. A little while later, another rack followed.

When the car turned on a dead-end street, the police arrested the driver, Joseph Todd Partridge, 18, 352 Cranfield Road, on charges of grand larceny and fleeing law enforcement.

The passenger “bailed out,” the report stated. Police are still looking for the second suspect, Chief Mike Mullins said Wednesday.

Newspaper racks weigh roughly 50 pounds, and are sometimes stolen or vandalized, said Sam King, circulation manager for The Democrat.

“But we’ve never had them fall off the back of a truck before,” King said.

Since money from the racks recently had been collected, the thieves might have taken a few cents, King said.

Partridge also allegedly confessed to the theft of two compressed air vending machines recently stolen from area gas stations. Those can contain more than $100, Mullins said.

Those who take newspaper racks, air compressors and the like are probably after the change inside, he said.

“They don’t know how much is inside,” Mullins said.

“They’ll pop it open, take the money and leave it.”

No money was taken from The Democrat racks before they were thrown from the vehicle, but they were damaged beyond repair, King said.

Each rack costs approximately $435.

The investigation is ongoing, Mullins said, and the second suspect will be arrested when he is located.