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‘Cool Hand Luke’-style suspect caught after foot chase in downtown Fort Worth

An estimated 79 parking meters “heads” have been stolen in downtown Fort Worth in the past several weeks, police said. A suspect in the case was arrested early Wednesday in downtown Fort Worth.
An estimated 79 parking meters “heads” have been stolen in downtown Fort Worth in the past several weeks, police said. A suspect in the case was arrested early Wednesday in downtown Fort Worth. ramirez@star-telegram.com

As a captain on the 1967 movie “Cool Hand Luke” said: “You run one time, you got yourself a set of chains.”

Anthony Downs has a set.

Downs, accused of stealing parking meter heads in downtown for the past several weeks, was in custody Wednesday after a brief foot chase.

In the past month, an estimated 79 heads of parking meters and sometimes the poles were stolen from various locations in the downtown area, a crime that sent Paul Newman to prison in the movie “Cool Hand Luke.”

Police believe the spree ended early Wednesday.

At about 2:25 a.m., officers on special detail in downtown saw Downs just north of the 1000 block of Burnett Street, staying in the shadows and running back and forth across the street, police said.

Officers and detectives heard “banging noises,” which police say was consistent with the way Downs is accused of using metal water-meter covers to bang up underneath meter heads to loosen and steal them.

Downs ran, but he was captured a few minutes later. Stolen meter heads were recovered in bushes where Downs was first spotted, police said.

He was on parole at the time of his arrest, police said. Police said Downs had been previously arrested for burglary of a building and a coin-operated machine, and drug cases.

A row of parking meters at 800 W. Fifth St., in front of First United Methodist Church, was among those vandalized.

Police believe the thief was taking the meter heads for the coins rather than for the metal.

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr

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