Man Allegedly Stole Front-End Loader, Drove it Through Estranged Wife's Home

A Washington man was arrested Thursday after he stole a school bus and later drove a front-end loader into the home that he shared with his estranged wife. Police say he faces multiple charges including theft of a motor vehicle and first-degree malicious mischief/domestic violence.

The Chelan County Sheriff's Office said in a press release that Andrew S. Loudon, 39, was first brought to their attention when employees of Osprey Rafting spotted "a man in a yellow dress" driving away with one of their privately owned yellow school buses on July 24.

Police announced Wednesday that Loudon had been released from a local, privately-run mental health hospital on July 23. They say he was transported to a hotel near a bust station, from where he was meant to travel back home on July 24. He did board the bus but instead disembarked at Leavenworth, where he allegedly stole the school bus from Osprey Rafting.

Deputies located the vehicle and tried to initiate a traffic stop; however, Loudon refused to pull over. Due to new reform laws, police were forced to stop their pursuit of the vehicle.

On July 25, the sheriff's office received a call from the Chewelah Police Department who believed to have the driver in custody. Sheriff's deputies were able to quickly confirm Loudon's identity, who was still wearing the same yellow dress.

According to the sheriff's office, Loudon abandoned the bus near Moses Lake and then proceeded to hitchhike to Chewelah. There, he allegedly stole a front-end loader and drove it through a home. Police say that the home belonged to Loudon and his estranged wife, who left the home when she learned that her husband was nearby.

He is being held on charges of theft of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle, first-degree malicious mischief/domestic violence and attempting to elude police.

As previously mentioned, new reform laws in the state of Washington prevent police from pursuing a stolen vehicle unless there is probable cause that a "serious felony" has occurred. According to the sheriff's department, four requirements must be met in order for police to continue to search.

To pursue a stolen vehicle, there must be probable cause of a violent offense, sexual offense, suspicion of a DUI or escape from a detention facility or custody. Police must then determine that pursuit is necessary to identify and apprehend the suspect and that failure to do so is a danger to those around them. Finally, the officer must also receive authorization from a supervisor.

The reforms were instituted as a way to prevent the potential fatalities that could occur as a result of a police chase. Locals on Facebook, however, seem to have mixed feelings about the reforms.

"These laws are absurd," commented one Facebook user in response to the press release about Loudon. "Complete disregard for law and order. Someone could have been easily injured and killed, never mind property damage."

In response to those who had issues with the law, one user decided he'd play "devil's advocate."

"Maybe things worked as intended. Nobody was hurt (the public, the officers, or the mentally ill individual/suspect). The different police departments communicated with each other throughout the process.

"The suspect was apprehended. It took patience and communication, but they got the job done," the commenter continued. "Maybe we can all reserve judgment and see if there is a method to a new thought process on these issues."

Police lights
A Washington man was arrested Thursday after he allegedly stole a school bus and later drove a front-end loader into the home he shared with his estranged wife. Daniel Tadevosyan/iStock