Search for car theft suspect called off

EMPIRE - Empire Elementary School was on lockdown as authorities looked for a man spotted running from a stolen Toyota pickup truck today, authorities said. Officials called off the search at 2:30 p.m. and the school resumed normal operations.

Authorities were not able to find the man.

An officer spied the pickup near Yosemite Boulevard and G Street about 1:40 p.m., said Sgt. Rick Gilstrap, who runs the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force.

As task force members waited for marked cars to arrive, the man in the pickup took off running, Gilstrap said. A woman in the truck was taken into custody. No further information was available about her status.

A second car was stolen within two blocks about 10 minutes after the man ran from authorities, and investigators are trying to determine if that theft is related to the missing man, said Gilstrap.

Investigators used the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department helicopter and police canines to search for the man.

Officials ask anyone with information about this search to call Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Tipsters can e-mail tips via, or text them to CRIMES (274637) by typing “Tip704” plus the message. Tipsters can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at or 578-2235.