MARIPOSA COUNTY — A good citizen in a very large truck helped law enforcement end a chase of a stolen vehicle in Mariposa County yesterday.
On Wednesday, July 12, the California Highway Patrol requested assistance from the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office with a stolen vehicle out of Merced.
CHP Air 43 aircraft was tracking the vehicle when Mariposa County sheriff’s deputies intercepted the stolen truck on Hwy 132 just above the Horseshoe Bend Recreation area at approximately 3:15 p.m.
The vehicle, described as a commercial Ford F550 Flatbed Utility Truck pulling a trailer with a construction vacuum, had been reported stolen earlier in the day, in the Olive Avenue area of Merced.
Multiple sheriff’s deputies continued to follow the stolen vehicle for approximately 25 minutes as the driver attempted to evaded law enforcement, pulling on and off the roadway multiple times at speeds ranging from 20-60 miles per hour, and frequently crossing the center line into oncoming lanes.
Since the CHP was the initiating agency, once their Patrol Units caught up to the pursuit at the Bagby Bridge on steep and curvy State Route 49, sheriff’s deputies positioned the CHP as the lead unit, with the sheriff’s deputy K9 unit taking second position and additional deputy units behind them.
Deputies prepared to use Stop Sticks, and were positioned to do so, however, due to the size and weight of the commercial dually truck, there was concern Stop Sticks could lead to a roadside fire. It is not uncommon that punctured tires allow the rim to spark from the pavement. One spark from a rim contacting pavement coupled with the heat could cause a fire.
Instead, the Sheriff’s Office employed a loaded logging truck to block both lanes of traffic, just south of the Bagby Bridge. The driver of the logging truck was willing and happy to assist, and the location of this roadblock was intentionally selected.
Once the driver of the stolen vehicle saw the logging truck blocking the road, he stopped. Ultimately he surrendered to the Sheriff’s K9 deputy and the other officers on scene, after multiple verbal commands and uncooperative behavior.
No one was injured and it appears there was no damage to any property or the stolen vehicle, says the Sheriff’s Office. The stolen vehicle was equipped with expensive work equipment and trailer, worth thousands of dollars.
The California Highway Patrol will be handling the criminal investigation.
“Due to the driver’s unsafe operation, and the weight of the stolen commercial truck involved, it was important to stop the driver as soon as possible,” said Mariposa County Sheriff Doug Binnewies. “A truck of that size would demolish a smaller passenger vehicle. The communication and coordination between agencies involved helped bring this event to a stop, without injury to anyone.
“Utilizing resources available to help support public safety is always an option to our deputies, and the cooperation demonstrated by the log truck operator was welcomed. It’s always great to see that level of cooperation between agencies and community. This outcome was the best possible, and the logging truck driver was happy to help. Nobody likes a thief.”