The suspects in a shoplifting incident at Family Dollar in Newfane led Niagara County Sheriff's deputies on a chase into the city of Lockport before three of the four were taken into custody on Tuesday. The chase ended after a two-vehicle collision on the city's east end.
According to the sheriff's office, central dispatch fielded a report about a larceny in progress at Family Dollar, 3984 Lockport Olcott Road, at 12:49 p.m. The caller indicated the suspects left the store in a white van. Responding deputies observed a vehicle matching the description traveling south on Day Road and attempted a traffic stop. The white Dodge Caravan failed to stop and led the deputies from the town into the city.
The vehicle stopped after it struck another vehicle at the intersection of Chestnut and Chapel streets and the male driver fled the scene on foot, the sheriff's office said. The driver evaded capture, but three passengers were taken into custody: Shawn Pittler, 33, of Lockport; Jessica Burling, 28, of the town of Niagara; and Jacquelyn Flaig, 37, of the town of Niagara.
Pittler was charged with fifth-degree possession of stolen property and New York State Parole issued a detainer warrant for him, the sheriff's office said. Charges against Burling and Flaig are pending; they were both transported to an unnamed facility for medical treatment due to the collision.
In a press release, Sheriff Michael J. Filicetti restated his objections to the New York State "Less is More" and bail reform laws, citing Pittler's criminal record. Pittler, a parolee, had been released from Niagara County Jail on Sept. 24, under the Less is More legislation, through which Filicetti said Pittler's parole hold was removed.
"Since being released (Pittler) was arrested by the Lockport Police Department on Sunday, November 14th, 2021 for Criminal Contempt 2nd. Today Pittler was in a vehicle involved in thefts that attempted to flee from my deputies. They put the public and my deputies in danger by their reckless actions," Filicetti said. "I have repeatedly raised objections to 'Less is More' and 'Bail Reform' because I believe it puts the public at risk. This is another glaring example of the outcome of these reforms. Luckily we were able to obtain a parole hold to stop Pittler's criminal activity for now."