Man faces felonies after three alleged car thefts

CODY — Three stolen vehicles, two near-miss collisions, a deployed spike strip, and one black eye later, Garret Bailey is now in custody at the Park County Detention Center.

Bailey, 27, led authorities from the Wyoming Highway Patrol, Park County Sheriff’s Office and Cody Police Department on a high speed chase reaching speeds of 125 MPH on WYO 120 South late last Tuesday night.

He is now facing felony charges for two counts theft of property valued at more than $1,000 and property destruction of $1,000 or more, charges carrying up to 30 years in prison and $30,000 in fines. He is also facing misdemeanors for fleeing or attempting to elude, reckless endangering, and driving under the influence of alcohol and controlled substances, charges carrying an additional 1.5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

“The case is very strongly based on the defendant’s own admissions,” said Park County Deputy Prosecutor Jack Hatfield in circuit court on Friday.

Bailey allegedly stole a vehicle from Blair’s Market in Powell and started making his way to Cody thereafter.

The vehicle was immediately reported stolen and a Park County Sheriff’s Office deputy and Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper recognized the red 2015 Ford Edge at the intersection of U.S. 14A and Beacon Hill Road about a half hour after the theft. When Highway Patrol initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle, Bailey was ordered to turn off the vehicle and show his hands, but he did not comply, taking off toward U.S. 14/16/20 E.

Heading toward Cody, Bailey nearly collided head-on with a sheriff deputy’s vehicle, but swerved at the last moment to avoid the crash.

Deputies followed in pursuit, quickly reaching dangerous speeds after turning onto WYO 120 South.

According to the affidavit, at one point during the chase Bailey swerved into the northbound lane in front of a UPS truck before swerving back into the southbound lane at the last second.

Bailey turned left onto the Oregon Basin Road at a high rate of speed, causing a chasing deputy to slide into a barrow ditch and get their patrol vehicle stuck when they were unable to follow the sharp turn. An estimated $3,109 in damage was caused to the patrol car.

Deputies then deployed a spike strip on the road, which Bailey ran through after turning around on the Oregon Basin Road. He pulled over shortly after and gave himself up peacefully.

Bailey tested positive for a .027 blood alcohol concentration and admitted to using multiple controlled substances including marijuana and meth. He was wearing nothing but long johns, a long sleeved shirt, and socks with no shoes when arrested.

There was significant damage done to the stolen vehicle’s front passenger side rim and tire.

Hatfield described Bailey’s actions as a “crime story that began two weeks ago.”

He is accused of stealing two other vehicles and being involved in a hit-and-run crash in addition to the Ford Edge theft. Both of the prior vehicle thefts took place in New Mexico, one of which involving the theft of a government vehicle. There are no additional or specific charges existing in Wyoming for theft of a government vehicle.

That vehicle, a Ford Ranger, belongs to Harding County, N.M., and was found abandoned on WYO 294 in a snowdrift Feb. 22. Bailey said after several attempts to free the vehicle from the snowdrift, he got a ride to Powell and was provided free lodging at the Super 8 Motel thanks to a local church.

According to Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Tom Hardesty, Bailey admitted to stealing the Ranger and was driving through Cody on his way to his final destination in Butte, Mont.

Although he was staying with family in New Mexico prior to his arrest, Bailey has ties to Montana.

When first coming into custody with authorities, Bailey claimed he had been kidnapped by a masked man wearing a camouflage coat.

He said he was attacked behind Blair’s by a man who started “wailing on him.” After this attack that he claimed was the source of his black eye, Bailey said he returned to consciousness in the back seat of a car, wearing nothing but his long johns. He said it was the masked man who led authorities on the car chase, and then escaped on foot after driving through the spike strip. There were no footprints near the Ford Edge to corroborate this claim.

Bailey also claimed that a “friend of a friend” named “O” let him borrow their truck in New Mexico. When he “tapped” the back of the government vehicle, he said he came to an agreement with that individual that he could take that truck to Montana and return it “in a couple of days.”

It was originally suspected Bailey had stolen a total of four vehicles, but Quay County Sheriff Russell Shafer said in a phone interview Friday one of those incidents was not actually theft, but rather Bailey just lying to his grandmother.

When Powell Police Officer Chris Wallace told him there were surveillance cameras filming the Blair’s parking lot at the time of the crime, Bailey relented and admitted to the theft, along with stealing the Harding County, N.M. vehicle and wrecking a van he was driving he had earlier claimed had just tapped another vehicle. Later surveillance of this footage showed a man matching his appearance and wearing a camouflage jacket stealing the Ford from the parking lot. The owner of the Ford said there had been a man matching Bailey’s appearance with “jagged” teeth asking for a ride to Cody when they walked into the store.

After an initial hearing before Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters on Friday, Bailey’s bond was set at $75,000 cash-only.

Hatfield had argued for a $100,000 cash bond, accusing Bailey of being a “serious flight risk and danger to the community” due to his past conviction for being in contempt of court and having no ties to the local area.

“I don’t necessarily agree, but I don’t have much to say,” Bailey said via video conference from the Park County Detention Center.

Bailey is scheduled for a preliminary hearing 11:30 a.m. Friday in circuit court.

Still needing to be recovered is the Ford Ranger from New Mexico. That responsibility will fall on Harding County, a low-income county with only 693 residents.

“It’s quite a drive,” said Harding County Sheriff Raymond Gutierrez.