Suspect steals CHP cruiser, leading officers on desert chase

A police chase involving a stolen CHP cruiser.
The pursuit began shortly after 5 p.m. when deputies tried to stop a reckless DUI suspect, police said.

A man was arrested Wednesday evening after authorities say he stole two vehicles during a police chase, including a California Highway Patrol cruiser that he crashed in the desert near Rosamond.

His passenger was arrested about two hours after the crash when authorities found her hiding in some bushes in the desert, according to preliminary reports from law enforcement.

The pursuit began shortly after 5 p.m. when deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Palmdale station tried to stop a reckless DUI suspect, said Deputy Juanita Navarro, a department spokeswoman. Deputies with the Lancaster station took over as the pursuit entered their territory.


The California Highway Patrol received a call from the Sheriff’s Department at 5:24 p.m., alerting them that deputies were pursuing a driver wanted for attempted assault on a deputy, and the CHP joined the pursuit shortly thereafter in Kern County, authorities said.

The driver crashed the initial vehicle, a silver Kia Optima, in the Rosamond area and, armed with a handgun, he and his passenger stole a Toyota Tundra and fled again, said CHP Officer Monique Mischeaux, a public information officer with the agency.

The driver attempted to go offroading in the truck but crashed the vehicle in the desert. He and his passenger ran off and the officers lost sight of them, Mischeaux said. The driver circled back, got into a CHP Dodge Charger that had been left running and drove away.

That shouldn’t have been possible because those vehicles have a push-button start, and “most of our officers wear the key fob on their belt,” Mischeaux said. Mischeaux said she didn’t know whether the officer whose vehicle was stolen had the key fob on his or her belt.

Shortly after 6 p.m., the driver got the cruiser stuck as he tried to get back on a paved road. He then leaped out of the vehicle and lay on the ground, awaiting arrest, while his passenger hid in the bushes.

The Sheriff’s Department didn’t have any helicopters in the area, so deputies depended on media coverage for aerial views of the suspect, she said.