Multiple agencies, including the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, are helping the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force investigators search for a man accused of property and identity theft.
The suspect, 44-year-old Jacob B. Skaggs, has felony bench warrants for six charges out of Pierce County, including one count each of theft of a motor vehicle and possession of a stolen vehicle and two counts each of identity theft and possession of stolen property.
He was spotted in the Mineral area by a Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputy on Nov. 23. The deputy was unable to continue a pursuit after Skaggs began driving erratically.
The deputy saw a vehicle matching the description of one associated with Skaggs going roughly 97 miles per hour on state Route 7 near Mineral, according to Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Field Operations Bureau Chief Dusty Breen. The deputy tried to pull the vehicle over around 2:55 p.m. and identified Skaggs as the driver after Skaggs slowed down to make a sharp turn.
Skaggs then saw the deputy and began driving erratically, according to Breen.
At that point, the incident qualified as a vehicle pursuit under Washington state law. Because the situation didn’t meet the conditions for a vehicle pursuit under RCW 10.116.060, one of the police reform laws that went into effect earlier this year, the deputy stopped following Skaggs.
While the officers did have probable cause to arrest Skaggs due to the felony warrants out of Pierce County, state law only allows vehicular pursuits in cases where there’s probable cause to believe the subject committed a violent offense, a sex offense, escaped from police custody or was driving under the influence. Since the crimes Skaggs is accused of didn’t fall into any of those categories, Breen said, a vehicular pursuit wasn’t justified under the state law.
“While this individual has been pretty prolific in their criminal activity, they didn’t meet the requirements to take him into custody,” Breen said.
Even before the new vehicular pursuit law went into effect, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office considered the safety risk of each vehicular pursuit and considered whether it’d be more dangerous to engage in a pursuit or let the subject go, Breen said.
Skaggs drove in the direction of Pierce County, Breen said.
Skaggs is described as a white male, 45 years old, 5-feet 11-inches tall and 195 pounds. He is known to frequent areas near Eatonville, Ashford and Mineral.
Anyone who knows Skagg’s location is encouraged to submit a tip to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS or by using the P3 Tips app.
All tipsters will remain anonymous, according to Crime Stoppers of Tacoma and Pierce County. Anyone who submits information that leads to an arrest could receive a $1,000 reward.