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Suspected Clearlake pickup thief rams police car, flees

An unidentified man driving a pickup stolen from a Clearlake residence early Friday morning rammed a pursuing police car before driving off-road and fleeing on foot, police said.

Authorities were still looking Friday for the man and a second vehicle, a white 2002 Cadillac El Dorado, stolen from a Clearlake home early in the morning.

Several officers were conducting a drunk driving investigation several blocks away when the victim called around 2 a.m. to report a burglary at his Weyland Avenue home, saying someone took the vehicles and numerous tools from his garage, police said.

A sergeant quickly left the scene and took southbound Highway 53 to see if he could spot either of the vehicles in flight when he came upon a northbound Dodge Dakota matching the truck's description, police said.

Sgt. Rodd Joseph made a U-turn and pursued the truck. When it failed to yield, he chased it as it turned east onto 18th Avenue, where the driver's speed caused him to miss the turn and drive up an embankment, police said.

When Joseph tried to trap the truck against the embankment, the driver rammed his patrol car and ultimately got away, driving the length of 18th Avenue to an undeveloped part of the city and off into the brush on some trails the patrol car couldn't traverse.

Joseph followed a trail of tools and other debris thrown from the bed of the fast-moving truck and found the pickup severely damaged, its axle broken, and abandoned.

Authorities from multiple agencies surrounded the area while it was searched by officers, including a police dog who followed a scent trail from the truck for about a mile without finding their suspect.

The driver remained at large later Friday and was wanted for suspected burglary, assault on a peace officer, vehicle theft and evasion.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Clearlake Police at (707) 994-8251.


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