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Police cruiser was stolen while running before crash into Starbucks

August 31, 2012 |  9:37 am

A police cruiser was left running with the keys inside Friday morning when it was stolen by a man who crashed it into a Starbucks, a light pole and another car on La Brea Avenue, officials said.

The 25-year-old man was in critical condition after losing at least one leg. Officials had originally said he lost both legs, but later said they weren't sure if it was one or two.

The incident began about 4 a.m. when Los Angeles Police Department officers responded to a robbery at the Motor Inn Motel in the 3000 block of South La Brea Avenue, where an unidentified man jumped into the unattended cruiser and drove off, said Sgt. Jon Pinto of the LAPD's Southwest division.

PHOTOS: Stolen LAPD cruiser

The suspect sped north on La Brea, where he ultimately crashed into a light pole, another car and a Starbucks at San Vicente Boulevard, totalling the cruiser. He was taken to a hospital and lost at least one leg, Pinto said. No other injuries were reported.

Barricades were set up about a block in each direction of the accident, police said.

"We train our officers to always keep their vehicles secure because of the weapons and the equipment we have inside," Pinto said. "Sometimes, there are exigent circumstances, where it might be unsecured for a short period of time because we want to enter an emergency situation."

PHOTOS: Stolen LAPD cruiser


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-- Melissa Leu

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Photo: Los Angeles police investigate at the scene after a man stole a police car and smashed into a Starbucks on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times