MANCHESTER -- Last Tuesday afternoon, Manchester Police were alerted to a theft from Long Ago and Far Away of a $1,750 polar bear statue. The suspect has since been identified as Christopher E. Richards, 45, of Brandon and is currently being held without bail until a weight of evidence hearing is held.

In an affidavit, Manchester Police Cpl. James Blanchard said that an employee of Long Ago and Far Away said she saw Richards enter the store with a satchel bag on his shoulder. Shortly afterwards, the employee said she saw a woman also enter the store that was acting suspiciously. After they left, she noticed a now-empty space on a shelf, once occupied by the bear statue.

Upon leaving the store to investigate where the two people had gone, the employee saw them enter a vehicle together. After following the vehicle to acquire the license plate number, the employee returned to the store and relayed the license plate number, as well as a statement, to Blanchard. "As far as thefts go, this outcome is a success story," Blanchard said. "The property was recovered and the offender was arrested. The employee from Long Ago and Far Away did an excellent job of providing a very detailed description of the vehicle and it's occupants, which is what led to the police department locating the vehicle driving on Main Street."

The vehicle was found driving near the Orvis Outlet Store. An attempt to pull the vehicle over was unsuccessful, and after continuing to drive down Equinox Terrace Road the car became temporarily stuck.


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However, the driver ignored commands to exit the vehicle, and instead managed to continue to drive away. The vehicle reached speeds of 60 MPH, according to Blanchard's affidavit.

"Richards attempted to elude police, and led police on a short pursuit," Blanchard said. "The pursuit was quickly called off due to the danger that it presented to the public."

Blanchard said that after the pursuit, they worked very closely with the Brandon Police Department to identify and locate Richards.

"The Brandon Police Department was able to help us identify Christopher Richards and his vehicle, and we just put the pieces of the puzzle together from there," said Blanchard.

After Richards was located at his residence in Brandon, he was arrested and brought in to the Brandon Police Department to be fingerprinted and photographed. From there, he was transported to the Marble Valley Correctional Center in Rutland, V.t. He appeared in court on Friday, where he was charged with Grand Larceny, Gross Negligent Operation, Gross Negligent Operation in an attempt to elude police, and driving with a suspended license.

The weight of evidence hearing is scheuled for May 31.