DALLAS Mesquite police arrested a theft suspect in southeast Dallas Friday morning after he led them on a chase that never topped speeds above 40 miles per hour.

The chase began at about 9:45 a.m. Friday morning. The suspect fled north in an older-model SUV on Interstate 635 at Cartwright after reportedly stealing from a grocery store, triggering a low-speed chase through Mesquite and parts of southeast Dallas.

The man was identified as Edgar Rodriguez, 31, of Mesquite. He was charged with a state felony of theft because of a prior conviction. He was also charged with evading apprehension with a vehicle, another state jail felony.

Mesquite Police Department spokesman Lt. Shannon Greenhall said Rodriguez is suspected of stealing $500 worth of cosmetics from an Albertson's Grocery store at 1500 S. Beltline Road. A total of four marked units pursued, all from Mesquite. Dallas police did not assist, Greenhall said.

'In most cases, most police department's policies would not have allowed a chase like that to occur,' said Pete Schulte, a former police officer who now works as an attorney.

Schulte said most departments would not have chased a suspect unless they believed they were impaired or wanted for a felony.

'Because they've got that balancing act between protecting the public and actually doing their jobs,' he said. 'I was initially shocked that they were chasing a suspect for a misdemeanor shoplifting case.'

Mesquite police wouldn't release its chase policy when News 8 asked for it, but the department defended its decision to go after the suspect because traffic was light and the suspect wasn't speeding.

Lt. Greenhaw said if at any time officers felt the chase was getting out of control or the public was at risk, officers would have called off the chase. At times, the chase looped through neighborhoods in both Mesquite and southeast Dallas.

The Dallas Police Department has one of the strictest chase policies in the nation. It only allows chases for suspects accused of committing violent crimes.

In the case of the Friday, chase, police used stop sticks to take out of Rodriguez's tires after he crossed Interstate 635. He was arrested without incident at the intersection of Beltline Road and Kearney Street. Judy Samons, who works at the Body Shapers store inside a shopping center near where the man stopped, said she locked the door of her business, fearful the man would flee and attempt to get inside.

She said she saw a man open the door, flick a cigarette away and put his hands on his head as police approached and arrested him.

'I knew that something was going on because I heard the helicopters so I knew we may be in danger of some sort because when he jumped out, I could tell that he, if he had the opportunity he probably would've run this way and tried to get in here with us,' Samons said 'I just put the key in the lock and locked us in.'

The entire chase lasted 40 minutes and no one was injured.


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