Surprise carjacker already in trouble before April incident

By Chris Caraveo
Independent Newsmedia

Before a Surprise man evaded police and stole a bystander’s vehicle from a grocery store parking lot, authorities already wanted him for failing to appear in court for previous crimes.

According to a Surprise Police Department report released May 23, Lonnie Smith was arrested back on Sept. 14, 2014 after a SWAT team conducted a search warrant at his residence regarding multiple burglaries.

Around 9:30 a.m. that day, the SWAT team went to the home and gave commands for the occupants to exit. Four people did, including Mr. Smith.

Police arrested and transported him to the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail. MCSO staff found meth on Mr. Smith while they booked him, according to the report.

Lonnie Smith (MCSO)

Where’s my trailer?

Police connected Mr. Smith to another crime in which he is alleged to have stolen a dump trailer around Aug. 9, 2017.

In a separate report, the trailer’s owner told police the vehicle was parked outside an undisclosed location before someone stole it.

Security video from a business next door showed a white male removing the trailer’s lock. He left the area and returned in a white pickup truck with a female accomplice.

She directed the male driver towards the trailer. He then attached the trailer to the truck and left.

Police investigated further and tied Mr. Smith to the stolen trailer.

Officers contacted him Sept. 18 after his release from jail. Police told him the trailer was not where he had said it was the week before.

Mr. Smith said it was there when he was arrested and that someone must have found out about his situation and moved the trailer.

A trailer for a truck

Police went to a location Mr. Smith provided and talked to a man who said he was not aware of the trailer being on the property.

The man’s father arrived and told police he did not have the trailer on his property but it was there at one point. However, Mr. Smith had came over within the past two weeks and took the trailer after the man found out it was stolen.

He told police Mr. Smith picked up the trailer with a pickup truck. Mr. Smith obtained the truck through a trade with the man for the trailer.

Police returned to Mr. Smith’s home and arrested him for trafficking stolen property. He told police he did not move the trailer and named a couple of places someone else may have taken it to.

He later admitted to trading the stolen trailer for the pickup truck. Police booked him again into an MCSO jail. Officers searched for the trailer at the locations Mr. Smith mentioned but did not find it.

The Surprise Police Department responds to an officer-involved shooting and carjacking near Bell and Litchfield roads on April 9, 2018. (Matt Roy/Independent Newsmedia)

Smith flees to Colorado

Mr. Smith was due in court for his charges but never showed, according to police. A judge issued a search warrant Jan. 9. Officers attempted to arrest Mr. Smith April 9 near Bell and Litchfield roads.

During the encounter, Mr. Smith allegedly displayed a weapon. An officer fired his own gun, police said. It was unknown if a bullet struck Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith escaped when he stole a bystander’s vehicle, police said. Authorities searched for him for nearly a month. On May 3, the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Mr. Smith after a brief chase in Colorado.

Authorities did not locate the vehicle from the April incident.

What’s next?

An email from Finefrock Law Firm PLLC said Mr. Smith is back in Arizona with Marcus “Rocky” Finefrock, Esq. representing him.

“It is not the policy of the Finefrock Law Firm PLLC or Rocky to comment on any ongoing allegations other than to say ‘Every accused person is considered innocent of any charges until proven guilty by the trier of fact,’” according to an email.

A records request to Surprise police regarding the April crime was not available when police released the first two reports.

This story appeared in the Daily News-Sun June 8 edition. Subscribe to the e-edition online.

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