MANASSAS, Va. - Three people, including one teenager, have been arrested after police said they stole a vehicle early Thursday morning in Prince William County. The victim used an app to help officers track down the suspects driving his stolen minivan more than 20 miles away.
Donald Critchlow’s vehicle was still running when the three suspects jumped into it at an apartment complex at Butterfield Street and Lariat Lane in Manassas. He first tried to give chase after them on foot. He ended up stopping at a nearby hotel and asking for help.
“This guy clearly had been maybe running for his life,” said Charles Young, an employee at the Residence Inn by Marriott Manassas Battlefield Park. “I didn’t really know, but he definitely was in need of some kind of assistance.”
Young was just a couple hours into his overnight shift when Critchlow, covered in sweat, started pounding on the front door. Young buzzed him in and learned that his minivan had just been stolen.
“He had went there to drop something off, he left the engine running because he was just going to run in, run out,” said Young. “When he approached the door, he heard a car door close behind him. He turned to look and saw his brake lights. And at that point, he took off.”
“Honestly I was hoping as I ran towards them that they would just get scared and run out,” said Critchlow. “I didn’t think they would actually take the car.”
He said he ran after the vehicle until he got to the hotel where he then decided to stop and call police. He told them his iPhone was still inside the stolen minivan.
“As I was recalling, when I left the car, that is when I was like I left my wallet, my keys, my phone,” said Critchlow. “I do have an iPhone and I have the ‘Find My iPhone’ app.”
“I pulled out my phone and showed him that I had the app, so he took it and signed himself in and immediately we could see that they were headed up [Route] 28 north,” said Young.
Using Young’s iPhone, they were able to help Prince William County police track the three suspects. They were eventually pulled over along Interstate 66 in Fairfax.
Police arrested 23-year-old Abraham Cinto, 21-year-old Oswaldo Ramirez Valdes and a 17-year-old boy. They were all charged with grand larceny.
“He thanked me profusely, but I’m just glad I was able to help him,” said Young. “I hate to see him get victimized like that. And it was his mother’s van so that would not have gone over so well with her. If he hadn't left his phone in the van, who knows when they would have found it or what condition.”
Critchlow said he got the minivan back intact and with all his belongings, including his iPhone.