Woman charged with trying to steal police car

Unmarked vehicle was idling in Strip District, but problem for her was there were 2 officers inside

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A woman was arrested early Saturday morning on charges that she tried to steal an idling unmarked police car — with two officers inside.

According to the police report, three Pittsburgh officers were sitting in the car just after 2 a.m. in front of Club Xtaza on Smallman Street in the Strip District, where a 2,500-person after party for Friday night’s Wiz Khalifa concert was taking place.

The officer sitting in the driver’s seat had stepped out of the car to make a phone call while Officer Garrett Spory, sitting in the passenger seat, “was observing a crowd of five to six people in front of our vehicle who had clearly noticed our undercover vehicle.”

A woman in the group, identified as Ria Buford, 32, of Highland Park, walked over and sat down in the driver’s seat of the car. Officer Spory tried to push her out, yelling “Pittsburgh police, get out of the vehicle now! You’re under arrest!”

Ms. Buford informed the officers that she would be taking the car to drive it to her car, at which point the officer in the backseat also started to yell at her to get out of the vehicle.

“We were both terrified that she was going to attempt to drive away with both of us in the vehicle,” Officer Spory wrote the complaint.

Officer Spory got out of the car and ran around to the driver’s side to try to pull Ms. Buford out of the vehicle. A man identified only as John Doe grabbed the officer’s shirt and yelled not to touch Ms. Buford.

Still concerned that Ms. Buford was trying to steal the car, Officer Spory and other officers tackled the man, who was ignoring commands to place his hands behind his back. Another officer came over and “delivered two knee strikes to his back area” before handcuffing the man.

Both Ms. Buford and the man, who refused to provide his name and birth date, were arrested. Ms. Buford had “an overwhelming odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from her person,” Officer Spory wrote.

Both were charged with public drunkenness. Ms. Buford is also charged with robbery of a motor vehicle and disorderly conduct, while the identified man is also charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest.

Anya Sostek: asostek@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1308.

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