MODESTO — One minute. That's all it took for Ben Nisse's Honda Accord to be stolen from outside the minimart he'd stopped at before his shift at E.&J. Gallo Winery on Tuesday morning.
"When I left the store, my car was flying off the curb and down Yosemite (Boulevard)," Nisse said. "I went from near tears to anger."
At 5:30 a.m., Nisse pulled up to the Stop 'N Save at Yosemite and Riverside Drive. He said he turned off the engine but left the keys in the car seat of the Honda.
"They must have been sitting there watching me," he said.
Nisse called police and informed them that his car had been stolen, and that he had a GPS tracker in it. A California Highway Patrol officer tracked the car to Crows Landing Road within 30 minutes of Nisse's call.
As the officer pulled up to the Honda south of Service Road, two men ran from it, according to Sgt. Alan Pittman of the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force.
The CHP officer chased the men and called for backup, which came from Modesto police and Stanislaus County sheriff's deputies.
Within 15 minutes, the suspects were caught.
Nicholas Kremer, 28, and Duane Webster, 47, both of Modesto, were arrested on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, resisting arrest and parole violation. Webster was found to be in possession of heroin and syringes, Pittman said.
StanCATT took over the investigation and is looking into whether the suspects are connected to a rash of car thefts last week during which a half-dozen vehicles were stolen in one night near Carver Road and Orangeburg Avenue in Modesto.
Pittman said three of those cars have been recovered, but no one has been arrested.
Nisse is grateful for the return of his car. Even in a short time, the stereo had been pulled out and the Honda was in the process of being stripped.
"It went from the worst day of my life to being pretty happy," Nisse said.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter, @ModestoBeeCrime.