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Police: Hotel Driver Pursues Fleeing, Barefoot Car Thief

Jamie Rae Eckstrom, of Hopkins, was arrested after she allegedly attempted to steal a hotel van in Eagan.

A Hopkins woman's spur-of-the-moment attempt to steal a hotel van in Eagan was thwarted by an alert hotel employee, who chased down the thief in another vehicle, Eagan police say.

Jamie Rae Eckstrom, 32, faces one felony count of theft of a motor vehicle, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Dakota County Attorney's Office. If convicted, Eckstrom, could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

An Eagan officer on a routine patrol came across a bizarre scene on Feb. 22 at the intersection of Pilot Knob Road and Corporate Center Drive. The officer observed a driver park a white Econoline van perpendicularly across a lane of traffic in an attempt to block an identical van from moving. As the officer drove by, the second vehicle turned onto Corporate Center Drive—at which point, the blocking van made a U-turn and followed the other vehicle.

The driver of the pursuing van flagged the officer down and told police that the first van had just been stolen from a hotel parking lot by a woman wearing pajama pants and no shoes, according to the complaint.

Police caught the woman as she pulled the vehicle back into the hotel parking lot. The woman, identified as Eckstrom, had several bags in the sideseat of the stolen vehicle.

Police then took statements from a hotel employee, who allegedly told officers that she saw Eckstrom walk across the hotel parking lot, enter the truck and drive away.

The employee allegedly told another van driver what happened, and the man hopped into a second van and began pursuing the vehicle.

A hotel manager told police that the vans are regularly left outside the hotel with keys in them, although no one but hotel drivers had permission to use the vehicles.

Fabuladico March 08, 2013 at 09:40 PM
While I admire the heroics of the hotel driver, I think it's pretty stupid for the hotel to leave the keys in the vans. I drove for a motel for five years. We had two vans. At no time were the keys freely accessable even to drivers. We either got the key from the driver we were relieving or from the front desk (if the driver was first shift). Last shift returned the key to the front desk. Trust me, there are enough nuts coming through the average hotel to have at least a little security. By the way, I don't think I'll ever understand the current fashion of wearing pajama pants everywhere. It's almost as stupid as the droopy pants look for guys, although nothing is that stupid.

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