Police say prolific car thief busted in Tacoma admits to stealing 700 vehicles

TACOMA -- He’s run from the cops at least four separate times but on Friday detectives say they caught a serial car thief in Tacoma.

Police say suspect John Thornock, 24, is a felon who admitted stealing seven cars a week -- or a total of 700 cars.

Officers with the Auto Crimes Enforcement team in Pierce County first went to an apartment in the 1100 block of Ridgewood Ave with a warrant for Thornock.

The suspect was not there, so a SWAT team rushed to a second location and surrounded a Tacoma home. Thornock barricaded himself inside for hours, but officers finally entered the house, where he surrendered.

“He is not just a car thief -- he is a career criminal,” said one undercover cop.

Pierce County authorities are hoping Friday’s arrest will make a difference because detectives say Thornock could be their biggest car thief arrest.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up to 50 percent of cars stolen are the result of drivers leaving their vehicles unlocked and/or keys in the ignition.