7/24/21 Berks County, PA – Homeowner Confrontation With A Drunk Call – A Short Time Earlier He Stole An Acquaintance’s Car – Foot Pursuit – Found Trying To Steal Patrol Car – Revving The Engine – Captured

July 24, 2021


A Robesonia man tried to steal a Berks County sheriff’s vehicle while deputies were helping Cumru Township police find him after a homeowner reported a confrontation with a drunk and unruly man, investigators said Friday.

James E. Nogowski, 24, was revving the engine of the Ford Police Interceptor about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday when the foot pursuit brought deputies back to the Wilson School District Operations Facility on Cloister Court in Spring Township, where they had parked their vehicle, investigators said.

Deputies removed Nogowski from the vehicle before he could drive away, and he was taken into custody.

Spring Township police responded and began an investigation.

According to police:

Officers learned Nogowski, who was intoxicated, had a short time earlier stolen an acquaintance’s car while the owner went into Kidz Paradise, 1340 Wyomissing Court, to get a child.

Nogowski was in the passenger seat before the theft, the owner said.

When the owner came back outside, his car and Nogowski were gone.

The vehicle was later found in the cul-de-sac of West Wyomissing Court, near Route 724. Nogowski, however, wasn’t found.

He had left on foot and got into a confrontation with a homeowner in the 400 block of Old Fritztown Road in Cumru Township. The homeowner called Cumru police as Nogowski ran.

Cumru police requested help from Spring police because the suspect was last seen running into the Springside Manor apartment complex in Spring on the opposite side of Route 724.

Two deputies in a sheriff’s vehicle heard the call and also responded.

The deputies said they saw the suspect running behind the car wash on Cloister Court. 

As the deputies turned onto Cloister Court, they saw Nogowski run into a cluster of pine trees. The deputies got out of the patrol car and searched the pine trees. Nogowski suddenly emerged, ran to the patrol car,  jumped in, closing the door and revving the engine before the deputies pried him out.

Nogowski of the 400 block of Lynn Street was committed to Berks County Prison in lieu of $5,000 bail to await a hearing following arraignment Tuesday night before District Judge Eric J. Taylor in Reading Central Court.

Nogowski is charged with theft by unlawful taking and attempted theft, receiving stolen property, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and related offenses.