Serial car thief hijacks a truck in Bakersfield with GPS tracking, flees officers at over 100 mph
Joseph Dwayne Hale, 32, of Cabool, is charged with four felonies in connection with a Dec. 18, 2020, incident in which he is alleged to have stolen a truck and then fled from Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Hale is charged with tampering with a motor vehicle, property damage to a vehicle with the intent to steal it, first-degree property damage, resisting arrest, causing a substantial risk of injury or death to others, two counts of operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner involving an accident, failing to stop at an intersection and abandoning a vehicle or trailer.
He was arrested Feb. 2 on a $15,000 cash-only bond and was scheduled for a bond-reduction hearing Tuesday before Associate Circuit Judge Raymond Gross. Online records show that he did not appear. The hearing was continued to March 9.
Theft of a truck with a tracking device
According to the probable cause statement filed by Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Hannaford, at 8:11 p.m. Dec. 18, he and fellow Deputy Cecilia Schofield were dispatched to Bakersfield for a report of a stolen silver 2018 Ford F-150 truck. The caller told a dispatcher that they had a tracking device on the truck and would keep the officers informed of its location.
The deputies turned south on Highway 101 in Bakersfield, and approximately two or three miles south of Highway 160, they met the stolen truck traveling the opposite direction at a high rate of speed.
“I activated my emergency equipment and turned around on the suspect vehicle,” Hannaford wrote in the report. “The suspect vehicle, at this time, was a considerable distance ahead of Deputy Schofield and [me] but was still close enough to us to where we observed the suspect vehicle turn left onto Highway 160.”
Pursuit turns toward Howell County, reaches speeds of 100 mph
Hannaford radioed the dispatch office and asked the dispatcher to notify Howell County Sheriff’s Department of the situation and request permission to continue the pursuit into that county. HCSD agreed, and the officers followed Hale onto Highway 160, heading east toward West Plains.
“Speeds were reached in excess of one hundred miles per hour but the suspect vehicle was still pulling away from Deputy Schofield and me,” Hannaford said. “Due to traffic conditions and the erratic driving of the suspect, I deactivated my emergency equipment and resumed normal driving speeds and continued in the direction of the suspect vehicle.”
Hannaford radioed the Ozark County dispatch office to ask the vehicle owner to provide updated information on the location of the truck. The dispatcher relayed the information, telling Hannaford and Schofield that the truck was on OO Highway, turning onto County Road 7320 in Howell County.
The officers followed the directions of the dispatch officer based on the tracking device in the truck. They drove down County Road 7320, turned onto YY Highway and then turned north onto Highway 101.
“[We] immediately met the suspect vehicle, which was traveling south. I immediately turned around and caught up to the vehicle. I activated my emergency lights and attempted to make a traffic stop,” Hannaford wrote. “The vehicle quickly accelerated then turned left onto a dead-end county road.”
Shortly after turning onto the county road, Hale reportedly crashed the vehicle, striking an electricity pole and breaking it in half; the truck rolled over and came to rest with its wheels in the air.
An attempt to flee on foot
Hannaford approached the passenger’s side of the vehicle, and Schofield approached the driver’s side. Hale unsuccessfully attempted to break the passenger’s window from inside the vehicle. When that failed, he was able to roll the window down and crawl out of the truck.
Hannaford commanded Hale to show the officer his hands, but Hale did not comply. Instead, he turned and attempted to flee on foot. Hannaford followed and caught him in a nearby patch of timber, the report says.
Hale was placed in handcuffs and transported to the Ozark County Jail, where he was processed. Statements were collected from the victim and are included as part of the investigation.
Hale is charged as a persistent offender, which means he is subject to an extended term of imprisonment if convicted. The prior offender status is based on his prior conviction in at least two felonies in his past. The designation means that Hale will face sentencing of each charge as if it were one class higher than it usually is sentenced.
According to online court records, Hale was found guilty of resisting or interfering with an arrest in April 2009, attempting to tamper with a motor vehicle in January 2010, tampering with a motor vehicle in July 2017 and two counts of tampering with a motor vehicle and resisting arrest by fleeing in May 2018.