Altoona man charged after breaking into soda machine, leading police on chase

Local News

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — An Altoona man was arrested after trying to break into a soda machine and then leading police on a chase, according to police.

Police say Raymond C. Birch, 49, of Altoona, tried to use a crowbar to break into a soda machine at Martins Grocery Store on E. Chestnut Ave., Monday. When police arrived, they observed Birch’s red pickup truck driving away from the area of the soda machine and tried to conduct a stop.

Police say he pulled his truck around the front of the police car and turned north onto 2nd Street, drove through a business’ yard, and headed west on Chestnut Ave. Alley.

Police say Birch turned North onto 3rd Street and struck an occupied vehicle and continued driving on Lexington Ave. The driver of that vehicle was taken to UPMC Altoona to be treated for injuries.

The pursuit continued down Juniata Gap Road, 25th Ave., and eventually back down 3rd Street, where Birch struck a parked vehicle.

According to police, Birch then turned onto 22nd Ave., ran four stop signs, and turned onto Kettle Street. He turned into the Cherry Grove apartments on Walnut Ave., where his vehicle jumped the sidewalk and crashed into a fence.

Birch got out of his vehicle and ignored police commands, according to the affidavit.

Police say they could smell alcohol in his breath and they discovered an opened can of Redd’s Wicked Black Cherry in the front seat cup holder.

Police observed severe damage to the soda machine from the original call, and discovered Birch had $34.32 on his person, which was placed into evidence.

Birch is being charged with:

  • Fleeing or eluding a police officer
  • Avoiding apprehension
  • Accident involving injury while not properly licensed
  • Resisting arrest
  • Criminal mischief
  • DUI
  • Theft of movable property
  • Accidents involving damage to an unattended vehicle or property
  • Reckless driving
  • Careless driving
  • Failing to stop at stop signs

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