Man who stole minivan from woman, kids nabbed in Delaware, police say

Wallace Choate facing long list of criminal charges for alleged carjacking

Author: , Reporter
Published: Jul 11 2013 11:16:21 AM EDT   Updated On: Jul 11 2013 11:02:38 PM EDT
Birdsboro Car Wash theft
WILMINGTON, Del. -

A Birdsboro woman is going to get her minivan back after she and her two young children were carjacked at a car wash.

Birdsboro police said the suspect, Wallace Choate, and the abandoned van were found in Delaware early Thursday morning. 

Irene Ziemer and her two sons, Jake and Mitch, didn't sleep at home Wednesday night. Instead, they stayed with family.

"He knew my address. He had my house keys. With my kids, I didn't want to take any chances," said Ziemer, who was carjacked at Wil's Splash and Dash Car Wash on North Furnace Street in Birdsboro around 4 p.m. "All of a sudden, I was on the passenger side and the next thing I heard the door open and a man jumped in."

She said she was caught off guard.

"I said, 'Can I get my phone?' When I did that, I looked at what his hat said and I looked at his shirt, and he said, 'Get your kids and get away from the van,'" said Ziemer. "I just put my hands up and I backed away."

Police said the bike leaning against the car wash led them to the suspect because Choate's son was looking for it and his dad.

"He's like, 'Where's my dad? What my dad do?' Something like that," said Ziemer. "I'm like, 'What's your dad look like?' And he described the man that took my car."

Ziemer was frightened but said she spoke to the teen and prayed that his dad was alright.

"Mine's just a vehicle, their's is a person," said Ziemer. "That's a family member. Mine's just a car."

Choate left Birdsboro and eventually ended up in Wilimington, Del., said Birdsboro police, adding that they got a call from state police in Delaware around 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

"They located the car and it wasn't until about a half-hour later when they were searching the area for the money, they found somebody passed out in the bushes," said Chief Ted Roth, Birdsboro Police Dept. 

"I'm just glad they found him and he wasn't hurt or dead or in a car accident, killed himself or someone else," said Ziemer.

Police said Choate was taken to the hospital, and they are processing paperwork to extradite him to Pennsylvania to face a long list of charges, including robbery of a motor vehicle, theft by unlawful taking, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, harassment, reckless driving and receiving stolen property.