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Police capture thief on lam since 2003

BRISTOL — After the better part of a decade searching for the man who stole a Bristol Police Department cruiser while drunk, then crashed it, police last Thursday captured the man in his brother’s home in Starksboro.
Later that same day, Addison County Superior Court Judge Helen Toor sentenced Carroll Thompson, 60, to four to six years in jail.
On April 11, 2002, Thompson stole a Bristol police cruiser while intoxicated and crashed it in Lincoln. At that time, he was charged with driving under the influence, fifth offense, and aggravated operating of a vehicle without the owner’s consent. On April 15, 2002, he pled guilty to the charges. After a brief stint in jail, court records show, he was released in February 2003.
When his sentencing rolled around on June 2, 2003, Thompson didn’t show up at the court hearing. Bristol police have searched for the convicted felon ever since.
Then, last week they received a tip that Thompson was staying at his brother’s home in Starksboro. With help from the Vermont State Police, Vergennes Police Department and the Addison County Sheriff’s Department, Bristol police executed a search warrant last Thursday morning to arrest Thompson for DUI-5, aggravated operation of a vehicle without the owner’s consent, violation of conditions of release and failure to report to court for sentencing, according to a press release from Bristol Police Chief Kevin Gibbs.
Bristol police asked for backup because they were told that Thompson might be armed.
Although weapons were seized, Thompson was “taken into custody without incident,” according to Gibbs.
Later that same day, Judge Toor sentenced Thompson for the felony he confessed to committing 10 years ago. He was also arraigned for violating his conditions of release — specifically, that he appear in court and that he report for an alcohol test in Rutland. While the sentencing of those two violations is pending, the court clerk confirmed that a bail of $25,000 was placed.
When, at Thursday’s sentencing, Toor asked Thompson about the original incident 10 years ago, Thompson said he had no recollection of it.
“So you don’t remember stealing the police cruiser?” Toor asked.
“No, I don’t remember anything until two days later,” Thompson said.
“I’m guessing you probably don’t remember because you were very drunk, based on what I see here,” Toor said.
The judge also looked to fill in a big hole in the story.
“So, Mr. Thompson, I have one other question: How did you stay out of law enforcement’s sights all this time?” she asked.
“I stayed out of trouble and lived in the woods … most of the time I stayed up on the mountain,” he said.
“At least we didn’t have you in another DUI, so I guess there’s something to be said for that,” Toor replied.
After the hearing, Thompson was taken to a correctional facility, and Chief Gibbs said the Bristol police are conducting a follow-up investigation on weapons seized during Thursday’s arrest (as a convicted felon, Thompson is not allowed to own weapons). Authorities are also looking into possible charges against those who aided Thompson as a fugitive.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at andrews@addisonindependent.com.

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