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Search continues for man who stole Kouts squad car

William Blankenship

William Blankenship

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Updated: February 12, 2012 8:20AM



KOUTS — A manhunt was under way Tuesday for a prisoner who stole a Kouts police squad car during a traffic-stop arrest at the Family Express at Indiana 8 and Indiana 49.

Soon after the squad car was stolen, the man could be heard talking with officers on the police radio asking where to find the key to the handcuffs and where the car’s cigarette lighter was located.

Police from a number of different agencies including the Kouts Police Department, Valparaiso Police Department, Porter County Sheriff’s Police, Starke County Sheriff’s Police and the Indiana State Police continued to search at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday for the man, William Francis Blankenship III of Kouts, and the fully marked squad car in which he fled.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department also provided its helicopter to aid in the search, according to Cpl. Mike Grennes, public information officer for the Valparaiso Police Department.

Blankenship stole the vehicle during a traffic stop at about 5:26 p.m. Tuesday, according to Porter County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Larry LaFlower, public information officer. LaFlower said the man who stole the vehicle was in handcuffs at the time.

The squad car contained an undetermined number of loaded guns at the time it was stolen. The driver of the vehicle should be considered armed and dangerous, LaFlower said.

Blankenship was last seen driving west on Indiana 8 from the Family Express Gas Station in Kouts.

“We believe he is still in the Kouts/Starke County area,” LaFlower said.

Blankenship is 5 foot 10 inches tall, 175 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He has a scruffy goatee with some other facial hair, police said. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a white and gray hoodie sweatshirt.

The Kouts police car is a white 2010 Chevrolet Impala that is fully marked with a gold stripe and black trim. “Kouts Police” is written in black on both sides of the vehicle.

Anyone who sees the vehicle is asked to call 911 immediately and should not approach the vehicle.



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