Joyride with stolen truck ends in arrests
December 18, 2013The evening of Dec. 3 looked to be another quiet night in Valley Center. Or at least it was, until five people in possession of a stolen Dodge Ram truck led law enforcement officials on a high-speed car chase through town and onto the Rincon Indian Reservation, concluding in a manhunt with K-9 units in hot pursuit.
Earlier that day, the Escondido Police Department received word that the truck had been stolen, and they alerted the Valley Center Sheriff's Substation that the vehicle could be in the area. At around 8:17 p.m., Deputy Aaron Boer spotted the truck turning eastbound onto Vesper Road off of Valley Center Road and he closed in.
"He got behind it and directed it to pull over, knowing it was a stolen vehicle," said Lt. Kelly Martinez.
That's when the truck took off.
After fleeing down Vesper Road, the vehicle turned south onto Mactan Road and back onto Valley Center Road, speeding east at approximately 60 mph. Initially there were five sheriff's vehicles on their tail, and they soon called in back-up from the Fallbrook Sheriff's Substation as well. With no signs of slowing down, the sheriffs had to take more drastic measures.
"They deployed a spike strip and it was successful," said Martinez. The spikes punctured the truck's tires, but they remained inflated enough for the chase to continue. The truck continued east past Lake Wohlford Road and followed Valley Center Road onto the reservation, flying recklessly past two other vehicles on the way.
Looking to get off the main road, the stolen vehicle turned onto Tribal Road and then Calac Road, near Harrah's Rincon Hotel & Casino. Becoming increasingly desperate, the driver tried crossing a large open field to evade the officers. The vehicle soon struck a SDG&E utility pole near Morales Lane and the car chase was brought to an abrupt halt.
"At that point, the five occupants fled on foot," said Martinez.
Soon after abandoning the vehicle, Jeanna Dominguez, one of the passengers, slipped and fell in the mud and was immediately taken into custody. Officers then discovered some stolen checks in her purse. Dominguez has been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, forgery, false checks records or receipts, forging handwriting, getting credit with other's identification, and receiving stolen property, all felonies.
Robert Chavez, another occupant of the vehicle, made it a little bit farther before Rincon Tribal Security Officer Tony Campbell caught up with him. Chavez punched Campbell in the eye, but with the help of another deputy they soon took Chavez into custody as well. He has been charged with the felonies of possession of a stolen vehicle, other agency vehicle theft recovery, and evading a peace officer with wanton disregard for safety, as well as the misdemeanors of simple battery and hit and run.
The Valley Center Sheriff's Substation brought in their K-9 unit to help track down the remaining occupants, and they eventually discovered Moses Chavez hiding underneath a Volkswagen minivan. Chavez had an outstanding warrant for the possession of a stolen car in a separate incident, and he has been charged on that felony warrant as well as possession of the stolen truck.
By 8:40 p.m. three of the suspects were in custody, but the two remaining occupants of the stolen vehicle were still unaccounted for. An additional K-9 unit from the Vista Sheriff's Station joined the chase, as well as a sheriff's vehicle from the Poway station, and they continued searching until 10:40 p.m. However, the final two occupants managed to evade the search and they remain at-large.
The entire chase covered approximately seven miles and brought out a total of nine San Diego County Sheriff's units by its conclusion. The stolen truck suffered damage to the tires and front end, and was towed for the original owners to reclaim. Aside from Robert Chavez striking Tony Campbell in the face, there were no injuries resulting from the chase.
"Just another day in Valley Center," said Martinez.