Anchorage Car Thief Captured after Whittier Incident

2011 Facebook image of Ben Latham.
2011 Facebook image of Ben Latham.

A car thief was located and taken into custody approximately an hour after stealing a vehicle after another incident in Whittier following the theft, it was reported by APD.

On Sunday, APD dispatch was notified of the theft of a silver 2010 Toyota Tacoma by the owner at 1:23 pm. The owner reported that they had left the vehicle running with the keys in the ignition on the 7000-block of Arctic Boulevard. The victim said he saw a white male with gray hair climb into the vehicle and drive away.

At 2:19 pm, the Alyeska Resort in Whittier called in and reported that “an elderly male” had come to the hotel and got into an altercation with the staff there after being caught trying to steal food from a private event. During the altercation, the  suspect, later identified as 55-year-old Ben Latham, told staff that he “had a gun and was going to shoot people.”

Staff at the hotel reported that they had not actually seen a firearm.

After that incident, Latham left the hotel and got into the stolen silver Toyota.

Whittier police called into APD dispatch and notified them that they were also responding to the incident. A short time later an off-duty Whittier officer called in and reported that he located the vehicle and that the driver was slumped over the wheel on the side of the road south of McHugh Creek.

APD responded with three vehicles and immediately blocked in the pickup. Latham reacted by trying to escape the block spinning his tires in the attempt. Officers determined that Latham could not drive away and began commands for him to give up, which Latham ignored.

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Officers said that Latham would occasionally put his hands up but then quickly put them down. Patrol officers said, “It appeared he was reaching for something in his lap.”

After a time, Latham exited the stolen truck and put his hands up. When told to turn around and face away from the officers, Latham “very quickly put his hands down towards his waistband and crouched over,” they arresting officers reported. In response one of the officers deployed a less-lethal foam round, striking Latham in the leg. Latham immediately raised his hands and fell to the ground. He was immediately cuffed.

After being checked out by medics at the scene, he was cleared and transported to the police department for questioning.

During a pat-down search, five credit cards belonging to the owner of the truck were found, but no firearm was located on Latham’s person or in the vehicle.

After questioning, Latham was remanded at the Anchorage Jail on the charges of Vehicle Theft I, Theft II, five counts of Theft II – Access Device, and four counts of Violation of Conditions of Release for a Misdemeanor.