Cops: Couple who stole cop cars were heroin users
The spree began before they stole a police cruiser in Camden Tuesday and led police on an interstate car chase over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
Blake Bills and Shayna Sykes made off with least one civilian car stolen in Pennsylvania before they went on their now notorious spree of stealing two police cars, said Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's office. The couple arrived in Camden as early as Sunday and were seen trying to buy heroin, he said.
Authorities are unclear why they chose a Camden Police vehicle as a target on Tuesday. Though the couple had a history of heroin use, Laughlin said he did not know if they were high at the time of the spree.
“It’s whatever state of mind they were in,” Laughlin said.
In fact, the car they had stolen from Pennsylvania had broken down. They allegedly attempted to steal another at Third and Market streets in Camden before they zeroed in on the police cruiser assigned to a Camden officer who was making a traffic stop Tuesday morning.
Bills and Sykes sped off in the Camden cruiser, taking it for a joy ride down I-676 before doubling back and roaring over the Ben Franklin Bridge. Police stopped them in North Philadelphia. Sykes broke away and jumped behind the wheel of Philadelphia Police cruiser; and a chase began anew.
Charges were filed in New Jersey against the couple today.
Bills, 24, is charged with attempted murder, carjacking, eluding, aggravated assault and assault by auto.
His girlfriend, 23-year-old Shayna Sykes, is charged with conspiracy to commit theft of a car and joyriding.
The Macungie couple are also facing charges in Philadelphia.
Police say they stole a Camden police car as Officer Sekou Reid-Bey made a stop involving another vehicle near Haddon Avenue and Federal Street on Tuesday morning.
They intentionally struck the officer, breaking his leg, while fleeing the scene, authorities say.
Then, they fled through Pennsauken and Camden, and crossed the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia. Police stopped them near Seventh and Norris streets in North Philadelphia, and arrested Bills.
While police were taking him into custody, Sykes jumped into a Philadelphia police cruiser and sped away. She was apprehended in the Northern Liberties section after a chase.
In Philadelphia, the pair faces charges of resisting arrest, risking catastrophe, driving under the influence of intoxicants and other offenses.
Bills and Sykes are being held in Philadelphia. Camden prosecutors say they will place a detainer on the two, so they will be released to New Jersey authorities if they post bail in Philadelphia.
The prosecutors office charges against the couple in connection to two other incidents are being prepared: Another police chase Sunday, in which they eluded a Camden officer who was trying to question them about drug activity, and an attempted carjacking Tuesday.
The chase wasn't the first time the couple has garnered some notoriety.
Bills' arrest on charges of burglarizing a neighbor in their Macungie condo community in August 2012 spurred many people in the area to install security systems, neighbors told the Allentown Morning Call.
Prior to the burglary, just two people on the block had security systems. Now, nearly a dozen people have them, neighbors told the newspaper.
Sam Wood contributed to this report.