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Police assess situation after suspect’s theft of cruiser

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The State Police are standing behind Trooper First Class S.R. Smith the day after a handcuffed suspect stole his cruiser during a traffic stop in Morgan County.

“It was one of those things, unfortunately, that could happen to anybody,” said Sgt. A.J. Peer, commander of the State Police’s Berkeley Springs detachment and Smith’s boss.

Smith stopped a black Ford F-350 in the 10000 block of Valley Road in Morgan County around 8:49 a.m. Tuesday, according to a criminal complaint filed with Morgan Magistrate Court. He identified the front seat passenger as Dustin Wade Hinckle, 29, of Berkeley Springs.

Hinckle’s identification turned up an outstanding warrant for multiple probation violations in Virginia, the complaint read. Hinckle’s wrists were cuffed behind his back and he was seat-belted into the backseat of Smith’s cruiser.

Smith returned to the truck to tell the driver he was free to leave, the complaint stated. While that was happening, Hinckle maneuvered his way into the front seat and drove off with more than $45,000 in state property, including a shotgun, an assault rifle and Smith’s badge…

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