Gas station customer initiates Butler police chase of stolen car

Posted at 10:10 PM, Mar 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-16 23:50:32-04

A bold bystander initiated a police chase of a stolen car. The driver got in his truck and started chasing the stolen car, not knowing what the teenagers inside of it would do, or if they had guns.

"I had stopped at the Kwik Trip to get a breakfast sandwich," said Andy Westenberger, 20. "It's right down the street from where I work. I'm there a lot. While I was waiting in line, one of the cashier's was telling the manager to call police. He says there's a stolen car trying to steal gas from a pump, for the second day in a row."

Westenberger felt compelled to take action.

"Last year my mom's minivan was stolen by teens who did $18,000 worth of damage to it," Westenberger said. "Just a few months ago, a trailer at work was broken into, and all of my tools were stolen. I guess I just kind of felt what the gas station workers were going through. So next thing I know, I heard someone say they were getting away, and I said no way. I jumped in my truck and started following them."

But Westenberger didn't stop once Butler Police got in on the chase. He kept following the car, even jumping a curb, when he saw it make a U-turn.

"I figured here's my chance to stop them," he said.

That's when the five teenagers got out and ran, but officers caught up with them and arrested all of them.

Butler Police Chief David Wentlandt warns not to do what Westenberger did.

"If you see something, take note of what you're seeing and report it to the police and be that great witness," Chief Wentlandt says. "That goes a lot farther than jumping into a situation. I understand people are fed-up with thieves. But following your heart instead of your head, and not thinking of the danger you could potentially be in, could be a deadly mistake."

Wentlandt says just in the past year in Butler, he's seen a drastic increase in stolen cars and the number of police pursuits.