Man arrested in stolen vehicle with burglary tools after short vehicle and foot chase Sunday
West Columbia, SC – 02/23/2021 (Paul Kirby) – A Columbia man has been arrested and booked into the Lexington County Detention Center after he led a deputy and a SC State Trooper on a short vehicle and foot chase in the West Columbia area early Sunday morning. According to the deputy’s report, before the suspect was caught, he tried to flee through a muddy field, tripped, and slipped to the ground where he was taken into custody by officers.
The Lexington County deputy was patrolling in the Augusta Road area of Lexington County when he got behind a Ford pickup truck whose license tag was covered with mud and grime making it hard to read. The deputy activated his warning lights as the vehicle nearly passed then turned into the parking lot of the Circle K in the 2300 block of Augusta Road near Leaphart Road. The truck’s driver acted as if he were going to pull over but instead made a loop in the lot of the store and turned out onto the road and fled. He accelerated down Dreher Road with the deputy behind him using his lights and siren. A state trooper happened to be near the location and he and the deputy both began pursuing the suspect.
Th truck fled a short distance down Dreher Road before turning onto Hite Street, a dead-end road. The driver sped by some homes and came to a gate at the end of the street. He drove through this and onto private property. That’s where he bailed out and tried to flee on foot through a hay field that had been saturated with the rain last week and over the weekend. He tripped, slipped, and fell in the mud. The deputy was immediately on top of the suspect where he held him at taser point until the trooper assisted him in arresting the man.
The man has been identified as Thomas Edward Eckert of Columbia. The Ford truck he was driving was reported stolen out of the City of Columbia. When the law enforcement officers did the inventory to tow the vehicle, they found tools in it that are often used to commit burglaries. They also located parts of a cash register, a flat screen t.v., parts of a receipt machine, and other electronic items.
The City of Columbia Police Department was notified to come and take control of the vehicle. Eckert, who has a long history with the law and is currently on parole, was transported to the jail where he was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, failure to stop for blue lights, driving under suspension second offense, and reckless driving. He is also being held for the SC State PPP for violating of the terms of his parole.
The Columbia Police Department has not filed all their charges against Eckert at this point.