St. Petersburg family chases down truck thief

11:28 PM, Feb 6, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- A St. Petersburg man is thankful for a happy ending after he and his family chased down a thief who stole his truck.

Andy Finley said it happened Monday night at around 11 p.m., when he, his wife, and three children were all at their home along the 1700 block of 26th Avenue North.

"We heard a vehicle take off, and my wife and I looked at each other, and she says, 'That was one of our vehicles,'" said Finley.

Finley said he and his oldest son jumped into their van and went after the crook, who St. Pete police have identified as Herman Monroe Wilder.

According to Finley, they first followed the sounds of the 2001 Dodge Ram's grinding gears and his son stayed on the phone with 911 the whole time.

"I was actually kind of mad, actually upset that someone had the nerve to take a vehicle from my driveway while we're sitting in the house," said Finley.

Going about 60 miles per hour, they went down 16th Street to 5th Avenue to 28th Street, then to first Avenue North. Finley said at that point he lost Wilder and headed back home. He was afraid he'd never see his Ram again. But then, Finley's wife called and said that police -- thanks to the family's efforts -- had caught the accused thief. Police cornered him at a gas station at the intersection of 22 Avenue South and US 19.

"I'm proud of my family, 'cause we all kind of pitched in together," said Finley. "We actually took a minute and we stopped and prayed and thanked God that everything turned out okay and that nobody was actually hurt."

Finley said police told him Wilder was most likely going to trade the truck for drugs. He faces a number of charges, including grand theft and DUI.

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