A 9-year-old boy believed to have stowed away on a flight to Las Vegas last week was the same kid who stole a cube truck in downtown Minneapolis and led police on a chase through the city just days before, according to one of the victims of the escapade.
"An officer told me a 9-year-old juvenile was driving the vehicle that hit my car," said Mike Spitzack, an operations analyst in the banking industry in downtown Minneapolis. "He said, 'you'll never believe it, but the kid that hit your car is also the kid that flew off to Las Vegas.' I couldn't believe it."
Spitzack parked his 2006 Chevy Tahoe on a street in south Minneapolis last Tuesday and came back to find it heavily damaged. "It's pretty bad," he said, saying the estimated damage was as much as $10,000. He found a police officer's card and a case number left behind, and found out about the link to the boy when he called police to obtain information for his insurance company.
The SUV was one of at least two vehicles struck by the fleeing boy. He also hit an Edina police squad car.
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Edina police stopped the stolen truck last Tuesday afternoon, near 56th St. and Queen Ave. in south Minneapolis. They say officers apprehended a boy after the State Patrol and Edina police pursued the truck through the area. The truck hit the Edina squad car near Xerxes Avenue South and 56th Street, State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said.
Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer said state law did not allow him to discuss any connection between the pursuit last Tuesday and the Las Vegas incident, if there is any. The State Patrol would only confirm that the stolen truck involved in the Edina crash was driven by a 9-year-old boy, and that the law didn't allow the agency to identify the boy or any connection to any other incidents.
Other enforcement sources with knowledge of the situation say authorities say the joyrider and the Las Vegas stowaway are one and the same -- although Tuesday's incident with the truck can't be charged as a crime, since children under 10 can't be prosecuted as criminals.
Edina police spokeswoman Kaylin Martin said the crash did $5,888 in damage to the police department's car.
Two days later, airport authorities say a boy passed a TSA screening at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport last Thursday, snuck onto an outbound Delta flight while airline staff were distracted, and was discovered on the way to Nevada.
USA Today reports the boy will be back on his way to the Twin Cities as soon as today.
Here's the police report on the stolen truck in Minneapolis: