The man pulled up alongside a parked car at a Rohnert Park shopping center, got out, smashed a window, grabbed a purse and drove off.
The quick smash-and-grab unfolded in front of nearby undercover Rohnert Park police officers, reported Rohnert Park Sgt. Mike Bates.
It was about 12:30 a.m. Saturday and the officers were working on a teen alcohol sting operation at Safeway on Commerce Boulevard.
After watching the burglary, the officers alerted patrol and followed the suspect onto Highway 101.
Apparently realizing he was being followed, the driver sped up to more than 80 mph before making an abrupt highway exit across three lanes at Santa Rosa Avenue, Bates reported.
Rohnert Park officers in a patrol car stopped the driver on Santa Rosa Avenue. They arrested John Raymond Ware, 42, of Petaluma on suspicion of burglary and possessing burglary tools.
Inside Ware's car were items taken from the burglarized car in Rohnert Park, Bates said.
Ware was booked into the Sonoma County Jail.