2 arrested on auto theft charge after pursuit through Modesto, vehicles damaged

Authorities arrested two people Thursday afternoon after they were spotted in a stolen vehicle and led police on a pursuit through west Modesto that ended with a crash, four damaged vehicles and a brief foot chase.

The pursuit started about 3:20 p.m., when members of the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force spotted the stolen 2006 Chevrolet truck heading north on Paradise Road near Harris Avenue, said Sgt. Craig Gundlach, a Modesto police spokesman.

StanCATT called on Modesto police to assist. Officers tried to make a traffic stop near Madison and Ruberto streets when the truck sped off; police broke off the pursuit for safety reasons, Gundlach said.

Police were looking for the truck when officers saw it run a stop sign at Second and I streets before colliding with a red Honda. Gundlach said a 19-year-old woman and a 25-year-old man in the Honda complained of pain and were treated by paramedics. No other injuries were reported.

The crash forced the truck's driver to lose control and hit a minivan parked on Second Street.

Gundlach said the truck was loaded with tools and equipment. A metal bar was launched from the truck during the collision and crashed through the rear window of a white Mazda parked on Second Street.

"Luckily, nobody was inside, because that bar launched like a torpedo," Gundlach said.

Both men in the stolen truck ran away after the crash. Gund-lach said passenger Joshua Ortiz, 18, of Modesto was taken into custody after officers caught him near Fourth and H streets. He said Ortiz was arrested on suspicion of two counts of auto theft, one from a Dec. 10 auto theft.

About two blocks away, officers caught the 17-year-old Oakdale boy who was seen driving the truck, Gundlach said. He was arrested on suspicion of auto theft.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.