Man Steals SUV with Young Child Strapped Inside in Greenport

Southold Police said they were in a second car chase and crash with the same Cutchogue suspect
Southold Police said they were in a second car chase and crash with the same Cutchogue suspect
Southold Town photo

Southold police, a good Samaritan and a distraught grandmother took part in a dramatic Valentine’s Day chase in an attempt to stop an alleged car thief from escaping with a young child still strapped into the vehicle.

According to police, at 2:05 p.m. on Tuesday, February 14, a woman stopped on Front Street in Greenport to enter a store briefly while her sleeping grandchild remained secured in a child safety seat located in the backseat of her Mercedes Benz SUV.

While in the store the grandmother noticed her vehicle being driven away westbound by an unknown subject with her grandchild still secured inside. Outside, a man who was parked nearby and had witnessed the event, invited the likely panicked grandmother into his vehicle and set off in pursuit of the Mercedes Benz SUV westbound on Route 25 in Greenport.

The good Samaritan was able to catch up to the stolen Mercedes SUV and cut it off at the shoulder near Moore’s Lane. At that point, the grandmother exited his vehicle and was able to get into her commandeered Mercedes in an effort to rescue her grandchild from the suspect who’d taken it — a white male in his ’50s who she did not know.

Things escalated further when the suspect then continued to drive off westbound on Route 25 with the grandmother and child both in the stolen Mercedes.

The good Samaritan continued to pursue the Mercedes SUV westbound on Route 25 and was able to get the suspect to stop for a second time in the area of Silvermere Road, where he released the grandmother and child from the SUV before continuing to drive west.

At this point, while the good Samaritan was calling 911 to alert police of the incident, police said a sector car observed both the grandmother, child and the good Samaritan standing on the shoulder of Route 25 in Greenport and was able to gather critical information on the vehicle and a description of the driver to broadcast to other sector cars.

Within minutes, the Southold sector car operator observed the Mercedes SUV traveling westbound near Town Harbor Lane in Southold at a high rate of speed and attempted to catch up to the vehicle.

Police said the suspect, operating the stolen Mercedes, sped through Southold Village at a high rate of speed passing other vehicles and disregarding traffic signals until he struck a guardrail, drove up onto the Southold American Legion property, and then came to rest along Route 25.

Responding officers quickly apprehended the suspect without a struggle and transported him to police headquarters for processing.

Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley, named the suspect as 55-year-old Paul G. Ludeman of Holtsville, and charged him with multiple felonies and misdemeanors.

Felony charges include: grand larceny, aggravated driving while intoxicated – child in the car (Leandra’s Law), driving while intoxicated, and aggravated unlicensed operation of motor vehicle.

Ludeman was also charged with misdemeanors, including: act in manner to injure a child, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle without owner’s consent, fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle, use of a vehicle without an interlock device and reckless driving.

In addition to the above crimes, police charged Ludeman with multiple vehicle and traffic law infractions.

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