Bizarre bistate police chase began over underwear

The New Jersey man  who allegedly led police on a two-state chase lasting more than two hours Monday night was wanted for shoplifting a pack of Hanes underwear and a pack of tank tops valued at $21.98, according to court documents.

Robert F. Ritter, who led Oaklyn, Camden County, and Philadelphia police on the bizarre chase back and forth over the Walt Whitman and Ben Franklin bridges before being arrested Monday night, was ordered held Wednesday on $600,000 bail in Philadelphia on multiple charged of reckless endangerment, assault and eludingh police.

According to the documents, Ritter, 54, of Gloucester Township, was sought for stealing the underwear from the ShopRite on Crescent Boulevard in Brooklawn, Camden County, on July 19.

The store’s loss-prevention officers spotted the boxers and shirts in Ritter’s waistband and a scuffle scuffle ensued before and Ritter fled. The officers noted Ritter’s vehicle’s license plate and reported it to Brooklawn Police.

Ritter also was wanted on a warrant from Gloucester Township on charges of stalking a woman.

A statement Tuesday from Oaklyn police seemed to be aimed at allaying concerns about the risks to the public of chasing a vehicle over a relatively trivial offense.

“The pursuit only reached moderate speeds at times and traffic levels were deemed minimal,” the department said.

“During the just over two-hour incident, no reported accidents or injuries involving civilians were reported in either state and only minimal damage was incurred to the two Philadelphia Police vehicles,” it added.

Monday’s chase began around 7:23 p.m. when Brooklawn officers attempted to stop Ritter in his white, 2000 Dodge van in Oaklyn. The chase, which wound across the two bridges, ended at 9:36 p.m. on the Enterprise Avenue exit of southbound I-95.

A Pennsylvania State Police cruiser clipped the van near Island Avenue, and the van rolled over before coming to a stop. At that point Ritter, who was wearing a Tiki Barber New York Giants jersey, surrendered.

Inquirer staff writer Robert Moran contributed to this report.