An innocent mistake by a rental car customer led to a slow-speed pursuit on Southern California’s freeways Monday when a thief stole a Budget rental truck and drove off.
The pursuit came to an end about 2 p.m. when CHP officers deployed a spike strip that punctured at least two of the truck’s tires. The driver continued as the area around the left front tire smoked and chunks of rubber began flying off the rim. The driver stayed in the vehicle for about 10 minutes before surrendering.
The chase ended on a transition road to the northbound 15 Freeway from the 210 Freeway. Aerial footage of the standoff with police showed several freeway drivers pulled over on the 210 so they could watch the incident unfold on the nearby road.
Los Angeles police first got a call about the stolen box truck about 12:45 p.m. and officers arrived in time to find the truck – its rear door wide open with a major appliance perilously sliding toward the rear – gaining speed onto the freeway.
The thief stole the truck after the renter left the keys inside, officials said.
The pursuit began near San Fernando Road and Sheldon Street in Sun Valley, police said. The chase went through several cities including Pasadena, Azusa and San Dimas.
KTLA video of the pursuit showed the truck staying in its lanes and going between 30 and 40 mph. Pursuing officers were so far behind at one point that other unsuspecting commuters actually passed it on the eastbound 210 Freeway.
About half an hour after the chase started, a California Highway Patrol vehicle on the freeway ran a break behind the pursuit so other commuters wouldn’t get entangled in the incident.
It was the second televised chase of the day in Los Angeles County. Police in West Covina chased a stolen car suspect and cornered him in a neighborhood where he was eventually arrested.
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