Pursuit ended with a damaged patrol car, suspect vehicle abandoned on highway
A report of a vehicle part theft in progress on Jan. 5 led to a suspect pursuit that damaged a Healdsburg Police officer patrol car and ended with an abandoned car in the freeway median of U.S. Highway 101.
The incident occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. 5 when Healdsburg Police received a call around 3:30 a.m. reporting that two suspects were stealing a catalytic converter from a Toyota Prius on March Avenue at Prentice Drive.
Healdsburg, and other local municipalities, have seen a recent rash of catalytic converter thefts according to police, especially in thefts of Prius parts.
Prius catalytic converters have a very high concentration of palladium — a rare silvery white metal — and as a result cost a pretty penny upwards of $850.
A Healdsburg officer was dispatched to the area to check the report and located a vehicle driving southbound on University Street near the area where the theft took place.
“As the officer got behind the vehicle, it fled at a high rate of speed down Powell Avenue to Healdsburg Avenue. A second officer was at the intersection of Healdsburg Avenue at Dry Creek Road ahead of the suspect,” according to a press release from the Healdsburg Police Department.
When the suspect reached the second officer the suspect attempted to go around the officer’s vehicle but crashed into the rear passenger side of the patrol vehicle.
According to the press release the collision caused major damage to both the patrol car and the suspect’s vehicle, but the suspect continued westbound on Dry Creek Road and onto southbound U.S. Highway 101.
The second patrol car was disabled but the initial responding officer continued to pursue the suspect.
The suspect then got off the highway at the Old Redwood Highway off ramp, made a U-turn and got back onto southbound Highway 101 travelling north against traffic.
“The officer did not follow the suspect onto the wrong side of the freeway. The officer entered the freeway in the northbound lanes and located the vehicle abandoned in the freeway median still facing northbound in the southbound lanes near the Central Healdsburg exit,” the press release states.
With assistance from Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies and a CHP officer, the Healdsburg officer searched for the suspect in the area but was unable to locate them.
The stolen Prius catalytic converter was located in the suspects’ vehicle. Officers are still following up on leads regarding the suspect in the case.
Separately, but that same night, a Healdsburg officer noticed the front glass door of a business in the 1400 block of Healdsburg Avenue had been smashed out.
The officer checked the business and discovered that the business had been broken into and a vehicle had been stolen from the shop area of the business. That same night, Jan. 5, an alert citizen spotted the stolen vehicle driving northbound on U.S. Highway 101 toward Cloverdale and altered Healdsburg Police dispatch.
A Cloverdale Police Officer was able to locate the stolen vehicle and arrest the driver.
The two incidents do not appear to be related according to police.