(WBIR- Knox County) A suspect, Rufus Ragland, is in custody Saturday after police believe he ran over a Loudon County deputy. And the Loudon County Sheriff's Office said a common in-car feature helped keep him from getting away.
The Sheriff's Office said they received a call from OnStar reporting a rented black Chevy Tahoe had been stolen Friday afternoon. Then, OnStar used its remote stolen vehicle tracking system to locate the car, and it shut it off.
The Sheriff's Office said that forced Ragland to turn in to a Weigel's gas station off Highway 72.
"OnStar was actually able to make the lights flash on the suspect vehicle to give us a confirmation that was the right one," said Tim Guider, the Loudon County Sheriff.
OnStar is offered in all GM vehicles, but local car dealerships said the technology is becoming standard in many vehicles. And that makes it easier to recover stolen cars.
"Almost 800,000 vehicles were stolen in the United States last year, and only about half of them were [sic] recovered," said Dean Larue, financial services manager with Reeder Chevrolet. "With OnStar, that percentage is going to go way up."
OnStar said the technology can also lock a suspect inside a vehicle after it's shut down.
However, Loudon authorities say that did not happen Friday. Instead, they said Ragland got out of the vehicle that was reported stolen, and grabbed another SUV. They said he hit a deputy's car and ran over another in the process. But it still played a factor in Ragland's arrest.
"With that GPS technology on the vehicles with the new Acura Link Next Generation, that just enables law enforcement to find the vehicles faster," said Michael Boswell, a sales and leasing consultant with Acura.
The new technologies are helping people recover their stolen vehicles, and aiding law enforcement in putting criminals behind bars.
"In this instance, it's a great thing," said Larue. "Anytime we can catch a criminal, retrieve your vehicle that you worked hard for and somebody else took, it's a great thing."
Charges are still pending against Rufus Ragland. And the sheriff's office said they expect the deputy that was hit to recover from an injury to the back of his head.