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Car stolen in Niles ends up in Indiana police chase

NILES, Mich. -

A Niles family has to pay hundreds of dollars to get their only car back after it was stolen and ended up in Portage, Indiana.

“Just disbelief,” said Rachelle Yakim, whose car was stolen. “Shock, really. I mean, you don’t really expect anything like that to happen to you anyway.”

It was early Monday morning outside the Yakim family’s home on Clay Street in Niles when the car they’ve put more than 200,000 miles on was stolen.

“We were totally blindsided, so we didn’t have a plan of what we were going to do,” said Yakim. “We didn’t have a backup plan, emergency plan, or emergency funds set up for anything like that.”

The family was blindsided because the 2004 Kia Optima is their only car.

Rachelle and her husband use it to get to work and to get their two kids to school.

With the help of family and friends, the Yakim’s began a frantic search for their only set of wheels.

“I took Monday off of work and we drove around – anywhere we could think – apartment complexes, abandoned buildings, anywhere we could think that they would dump the car,” said Yakim.

But they didn’t find it.

Fast forward to Wednesday night, and Niles Police came to inform the family that their car had been located more than an hour away in Portage, IN.

It ended up there after a lengthy police chase on Wednesday, led by New Chicago Police Officer Jeramey Sandilla.

He learned the car was stolen after pulling it over for running a stop sign and running the license plate.

But soon after, a chase began.

“We went through New Chicago into Hobart, where the vehicle then stopped in the midst of Hobart and let two occupants out of the vehicle,” said Sandilla, in a phone interview. “The vehicle continued to flee; chased it back into New Chicago, through Lake Station and into Gary.”

The chase lasted nearly 45 minutes.

It ended on some railroad tracks in the city of Portage.

“[The suspect] substantially ended up getting stuck and exiting the vehicle with a baseball bat trying to intimidate law enforcement officers,” said Sandilla. “My K-9 partner and I initially walked closer, as he saw the dog and I getting closer, he complied with our orders and he was substantially taken into custody and transported to the Lake County, Indiana Jail.”

Sandilla confirmed that the suspect in the chase is the same person who stole the Yakim’s car.

Police believe he’s been living in South Bend.

Yakim admitted her car was unlocked and the keys were hidden inside it, but she said she never thought someone would want to steal the older car.  

The suspect was charged with five felonies on Wednesday.

The Yakim family is trying to find about $300 -- for towing and impound fees -- to get their car back.

If you’re interested in helping, you can click here

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