Special PhotoOfficers with the Covington Police Department look through stolen clothing items that were thrown from a vehicle following a high-speed chase on Aug. 23.

COVINGTON — A high-speed chase out of Morgan County ended with the arrests of three New York men in connection with the theft of tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise from department stores along the East Coast.

The incident began about 9 p.m. Aug. 23 when a trooper with the Georgia State Patrol attempted to stop a 2019 GMC Yukon in Morgan County for speeding. According to authorities, the vehicle fled westward on I-20 at a high rate of speed into Newton County. When the vehicle reached the city limits of Covington, the trooper performed a PIT maneuver. The vehicle crashed, spewing large amounts of clothing onto the side of the roadway.

Two passengers in the car were injured and taken to Atlanta Medical Center for treatment. The backseat passenger was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. The passengers were identified as Joseph Barriga, 32, of Bronx, N.Y., and Brian Alvarez, 24, of Middle Village, N.Y. The driver of the vehicle, Anthony Vasquez, 31, of Middle Village, was apprehended after a brief foot chase. He was charged with speeding, fleeing to elude, obstruction and serious injury by motor vehicle and taken to the Newton County Jail.

According to the Covington Police Department, the merchandise that was thrown from the vehicle still had tags and anti-theft devices on it. The CPD called the Georgia Retailers Organized Crime Alliance to assist in the investigation.

On Aug. 29, GROC personnel came to the Police Department to identify the stolen merchandise. GROC discovered that the clothing had been stolen from several department stores along the East Coast, including the Macy’s in Raleigh, N.C. The items were valued at more than $50,000.

Based on the findings by GROC, the CPD will charge the three suspects with felony theft by receiving stolen property.


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.