Man accused of shoplifting baby formula leads police on chase in Johnson and Marion counties

Joseph Crawford

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A man accused of stealing baby formula from a Greenwood store led officers on a chase that ended just north of downtown Indianapolis early Wednesday morning.

According to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Greenwood police were dispatched around 3:30 a.m. to a shoplifting case near U.S. 31 and Worthsville Road involving some baby formula. A sheriff’s deputy heard the description of the thief and his car, a black Dodge Charger, over the radio and waited for the car in a parking lot at State Road 135 and Smith Valley Road.

After about three minutes, the deputy spotted the car and tried to stop it. The driver continued northbound on State Road 135 before pulling over. The deputy said the driver, later identified as 25-year-old Joseph Crawford, refused to come out of his vehicle. The deputy noticed several containers of baby formula in the back of the car.

Crawford told the deputy he wanted to call his parents, but the deputy ordered him to get out. Police said Crawford put the car in drive and sped off, starting a pursuit.

Crawford reached speeds of up to 90 mph as he continued northbound on State Road 135, police said, running several red lights as he reached Marion County and made his way to Indianapolis.

An off-duty sheriff’s deputy who’d heard about the pursuit put down stop sticks near Maryland and Illinois streets; Crawford’s Charger hit the stop sticks on Maryland Street, deflating both left side tires. The Charger eventually slowed to 40 mph.

At that point, police said Crawford started throwing containers of baby formula from the vehicle. He finally stopped the car at Illinois and 22nd streets and got out. He was then taken into custody, police said.

Preliminary charges against Crawford include resisting law enforcement, criminal recklessness with a vehicle, reckless driving and driving while suspended. He was taken to the Johnson County Jail.