CHESTERTON — A man arrested in Michigan City after a lengthy police chase on Saturday is suspected of a series of break-ins at gas stations across Porter and Lake Counties in which menthol cigarettes and beer appeared to be the main targets.
On June 7 and 8, Chesterton Police were called to two separate incidents of burglary at gas station/convenience stores, Police Chief David Cincoski said.
The first occurred before 5:30 a.m. Friday at the Marathon One Stop at 400 S. Calumet Ave., and the second at 2:25 a.m. Saturday at the Speedway at 752 Indian Boundary Road.
Both establishments were closed, locked and unoccupied by staff, and the suspect made forcible entry by striking and breaking glass windows and panes to gain access, Cincoski said.
“Once inside, the single suspect pilfered multiple items. At the Marathon, he broke a plate glass window, which was discovered by employees arriving about 20 minutes later, according to police. Numerous cartons of cigarettes and cases of beer were removed.
At the Speedway, the suspect broke a glass door with a large rock, but an alarm sounded, police said.
Responding officers found the “cigarette wall behind the registers appeared to have been tampered with, and the Newport and Kool cigarettes sections of the wall were in disarray and/or missing. Other merchandise had been thrown about the floor,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Porter Superior Court. A display case of disposable lighters had also been emptied.
That’s when the chase started, as a Porter Police officer responding to the alarm saw a vehicle with no license plates driving away from the area.
He pulled over the car, and spoke with the driver, later identified as 45-year-old Michael R. Vysinka of Hebron. But while the Porter officer was speaking with a Chesterton officer, Vysinka drove away at a high rate of speed, police said.
The ensuing chase went north on Ind. 49, east on I-94, south on U.S. 421 and then onto La Porte County roads, where La Porte County Sheriff’s deputies and Michigan City Police officers became involved in the pursuit.
Vysinka, according to police, turned east on CR-300N, then north on CR-850W and back east on CR-400N. That’s where a StopStick deployed by MCPD officers blew out a tire in the car, but it did not stop, police said.
The chase continued into the Walmart parking lot, where the vehicle eventually struck a concrete curb near the Murphy gas station, and Vysinka got out and ran, police said. He was captured a short time later in the woods near Davita Dialysis, and the 55 packs of Newports were found in his car, according to police.
Officers also found “packs of Newport, Salem and Kool cigarettes thrown about the seat and floorboard. Also on the floorboard was what appeared to be a display container filled with disposable BIC lighters,” the affidavit states.
Vysinka was eventually charged with felony counts of of burglary, theft with a prior conviction, resisting law enforcement with a vehicle, and resisting law enforcement with a deadly weapon, according to court records. He was also charged with misdemeanor counts of theft and resisting law enforcement.
“When asked about the cigarettes in his car, he replied, ‘I’m not the only one involved, I’m just the driver’,” according to the affidavit. However, police said surveillance video showed just one suspect.
“The investigation into both burglaries in Chesterton is ongoing,” Cincoski said. “The Chesterton Police Department is working with numerous law enforcement agencies regarding several like crimes in Burns Harbor, unincorporated Porter County, Merrillville, Hobart and Griffith.”
The chief wished to thank Michigan City and Porter police for their assistance in apprehending the suspect.
Vysinka remains in custody at the Porter County Jail, and his next court appearance is scheduled for Friday in Porter Superior Court 2.