Authorities arrested a man on suspicion of stealing a U-Haul pickup, fleeing from Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies and crashing into parked vehicles before he was found hiding inside a cabinet at a south Modesto home.
Billy Lee Flowers, 29, of Modesto was formally charged with vehicle theft, burglary and evading police with reckless driving and disregard for public safety. He remained in custody Friday afternoon with his bail set at $40,000.
An investigator from the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force spotted Flowers about 2 p.m. Tuesday driving a white Ford F-150, according to the California Highway Patrol. The pickup was reported stolen from a U-Haul office that had been burglarized in the process.
The investigator spotted the stolen pickup near South Seventh Street and Blankenburg Avenue, just east of Highway 99. Unmarked task force vehicles got into position and followed the pickup. The investigators called for sheriff’s patrols to stop the pickup.
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The CHP said deputies tried to stop the pickup, but the driver sped away and the pursuit began. The deputies lost sight of the pickup before they found it abandoned on Rio Grande Avenue, east of Crows Landing Road and less than a mile south of where the chase started.
While evading the deputies, Flowers crashed the pickup into a parked vehicle while heading east on Rio Grande, the CHP reported. The crash sent the parked vehicle into another before the pickup came to rest next to a tree.
Deputies, CHP officers, Modesto police officers, auto theft investigators and county probation officers created a perimeter around the area and searched the neighborhood. They found Flowers hiding inside a cabinet at a home in the 300 block of Rio Grande Avenue, authorities said.
The CHP reported that Flowers struggled with authorities before auto theft investigators took him into custody. No injuries were reported.