MODESTO — A police manhunt in an east Modesto neighborhood after a short vehicle chase ended early Sunday afternoon with the arrests of two suspected car thieves.
Neighbors near Ashby Park alerted searching officers after the men ditched the car and fled on foot, Modesto police Lt. Brian Findlen said.
One suspect was apprehended leaving a backyard in the 900 block of Oxford Way. Police closed off the area and a police K-9 eventually located the second man hiding in a garage, wearing clothes he apparently had stolen from the house.
The residents were great, Findlen said. They cooperated very nicely with the investigation, and I think they had a role in bringing this to a successful conclusion.
The chase began at 11:20 a.m. near Scenic Drive and Bodem Street when an officer spotted an early 1990s Toyota Tercel that had been reported stolen a few days ago from Modestos Sycamore Avenue. Police called off the pursuit because high speeds through neighborhoods posed safety risks.
Neighbors tipped off authorities that the car had been abandoned at High Street and Ashby Avenue, and the manhunt was on. Police believed that one of the men had a handgun.
The reported driver, William Mitchell, 25, of Modesto, was arrested first and booked on suspicion of felony auto theft, evading police, reckless driving and violating terms of probation.
A woman left her home to ask authorities what was going on. Officers then searched her home and a police dog apprehended Paul Mendoza, 29, of Modesto in her garage, where he reportedly had tied shut a door with a rope and tried to hide in a cabinet. He was unarmed and police continued looking for a stashed gun.
Mendoza said the clothes he was wearing were his, Findlen said, but the woman said they belonged to her son. Mendoza was booked on suspicion of auto theft, resisting arrest and burglary. He was treated for dog bite injuries.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390.