A 33-year-old woman from Texas is facing multiple charges after she was picked up for shoplifting cosmetics at an Ulta store in Lufkin Saturday, then slipped off her handcuffs, stole a police car, and led authorities on a high-speed chase.
Toscha Sponsler was charged with escape causing serious bodily injury/threat of a deadly weapon, aggravated assault against a public servant, possession of a controlled substance, evading arrest with a vehicle with a previous conviction, and unauthorized use of a vehicle, with additional charges pending.
Police say they responded to a call about a possible shoplifter at the Ulta store, but when they arrived on the scene, Sponsler led officers on a brief foot pursuit. She was subdued and placed in the back seat of a police car as officers searched her bags for the stolen items. During this time, Sponsler’s hands were cuffed behind her back and she was restrained with a seatbelt.
According to the Lufkin Police Department, officers left the window partition open about 12 inches in order to let the air conditioning flow better to the back seat. As officers searched Sponsler’s bags, she managed to unbuckle her seatbelt, slip off the handcuffs, and climb through the partition before taking off in the SUV.
Sponsler then led authorities on a 23-minute pursuit, with speeds topping 100 miles per hour, all of which was captured on the dash cam of the stolen police car.
Multiple attempts to stop Sponsler were unsuccessful, but a PIT maneuver was eventually used, causing her to lose control of the vehicle more than 20 miles away from where the pursuit began. Sponsler remained in the vehicle after crashing and officers had to use a window punch to remove her.
Authorities say during the pursuit, they could see Sponsler grabbing for the shotgun in the patrol car, but it was locked.