SALT LAKE CITY — A pair of woman were charged Thursday with stealing mail and packages off porches during the Christmas season, eventually leading to a wild chase with police.
Tiffany Nichole Larsen, 35, of Salt Lake City, is charged in 3rd District Court with three counts of assault on a police officer, a second-degree felony; failing to respond to an officer's signal to stop, theft and three counts of mail theft, third-degree felonies; reckless driving and interfering with an arresting officer, class B misdemeanors.
Her alleged accomplice, Alma Herrera, 26, of Salt Lake City, is charged with three counts of mail theft and theft, class A misdemeanors, and drug possession, a class B misdemeanor.
On Dec. 19, the duo allegedly took a package off of a front porch. The package was actually a decoy with a GPS tracking device inside, one of several placed on various porches by Unified police officers conducting an operation to capture porch thieves in the area, according to charging documents.
A police officer located the minivan the stolen package was in and began pursuing.
"The van fled recklessly, ran through several lanes of traffic and turned left through a red light," the charges state.
Even after its tires were spiked, the van continued driving for 15 minutes on its rims, according to court documents. The van then jumped the center median and into oncoming traffic.
As an officer pulled alongside the fleeing van, the driver swerved toward the officer's vehicle, causing the officer to take action to avoid being hit, charging documents say. When a second officer approached the van, the van again swerved at the officer, causing the officer to go onto the sidewalk, according to police.
When the van came to a stop in the middle of the road, a third officer with his gun drawn approached the vehicle and ordered the driver and passenger to get out.
But as the officer approached, Larsen put the van in drive and drove forward, forcing the officer "to jump on the hood of his vehicle to avoid being hit by the van," the charges state.
Once the van was stopped, police say mail from several residents was found inside the vehicle. The women told officers they had burglarized six to 10 houses, according to the charges. They also were allegedly throwing packages out of the window as they were being chased.
It was just a year ago, in January of 2017, that Larsen was charged with theft by receiving stolen property after investigators say she failed to stop at an officer's command. A warrant for that case for failing to appear in court was issued a couple of days before her December arrest.
Larsen was convicted twice of failing to stop for police in 2015, and once for theft. Court records show she has a long history of theft, forgery and drug-related convictions.