‘Smash & grab’ suspect leads chase through Dowling Village, ending in crash on Park Ave.


NORTH SMITHFIELD – A man suspected of vandalizing vehicles in the parking lot of Dowling Village led police on a chase through the commercial development in January, which later ended when he crashed his vehicle into a wall on Park Avenue.

Rafael Flores, 47, of Pawtucket, then fled the scene on foot, according to police, and was ultimately picked up a month later by officers in Pawtucket. He has been charged in North Smithfield with felony possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of stolen vehicle parts, reckless driving, obstructing an officer and driving with a suspended license.

The incident began when employees at Firestone Tire called police on Saturday, Jan. 15 to report spotting a vehicle believed to be involved in recent vandalisms and larceny in the parking lot.

“Due to the suspect vehicle typically doing the ‘smash and grabs’ in the Texas Roadhouse parking lot, I immediately responded,” there, a report on the arrest notes.

The responding officer saw the car – a black Toyota Corolla with no hubcaps – as it drove behind the restaurant and then looped behind Kohls retail store, according to arrest records.

A second officer tried to stop the vehicle, at which point the driver attempted to strike the cruiser with his car before driving over a curb and out of the parking lot. The car, reportedly driven by Flores, turned on to Eddie Dowling Highway and then Park Avenue, and was spotted driving 80-miles-per-hour along that road while passing vehicles on the left.

Flores crashed into a wall at the intersection of Park Avenue and Carrington Avenue in Woonsocket, fleeing the scene on foot and leaving behind his female passenger. Police searched the area, but were reportedly unable to locate the suspect.

The passenger, who said Flores was her boyfriend and that she was telling him to stop for officers, was transported to Landmark Medical Center for complaints of leg and ankle pain from the crash.

Flores was picked up by Pawtucket police on Saturday, Feb. 12. He was also charged with failure in his duty to stop resulting in injury by Woonsocket police.

Flores has a pre-arraignment conference scheduled for Monday, May 16.

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