Anchorage police arrested a man they say struck a police cruiser last week, after he was allegedly found at the wheel of a stolen vehicle fitted with a stolen license plate.

The Jan. 17 stop which led to 40-year-old Jarsis J. Howard’s arrest began near Mountain View Drive and North Lane Street, APD spokeswoman Renee Oistad said, when a traffic officer saw a Subaru bearing stolen license plates.

The officer tailed the Subaru to the Arctic Tern Inn, near Taku Drive and Seward Street, where two people got out leaving only a driver inside. When backup officers arrived, the traffic officer turned on his vehicle’s lights and tried to pull the Subaru over.

“[Howard] accelerated and struck the side of the traffic officer’s patrol car,” Oistad wrote in a statement. “That same officer, who was uninjured, attempted to disable the Subaru by pushing it into a snowbank.  Howard continued to accelerate, spinning the Subaru’s tires, and eventually spun out in front of the patrol vehicle.”

The backup officers were able to pin in the Subaru on both sides, preventing Howard from getting out of the vehicle. Additional officers arrived and took Howard into custody without further incident, after he voluntarily surrendered a handgun in his jacket to police.

Estimates for damage to the police vehicles weren't immediately available Thursday, Oistad said.

Howard was held at the Anchorage Jail on charges of failing to stop at the direction of a police officer, vehicle theft, assault and weapons misconduct. He was also cited for misuse of license plates and driving with a suspended license.

The Subaru had been stolen from a Boniface Parkway trailer park on Jan. 5, and the rear license plate was reported stolen from another vehicle a week later.

“The switch wasn’t discovered until the vehicle was involved in a car crash and the responding officer noticed the front plate and rear plate on the vehicle didn’t match one another,” Oistad wrote.

Although police didn't have figures on how many recent stolen-vehicle cases have involved stolen license plates, Oistad said they are part of a "rising trend" locally.

"Switching plates on vehicles is not uncommon," Oistad said.

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