Three alleged thieves led police on a wild pre-dawn chase Friday, driving against traffic on Valley Avenue, followed by a high-speed pursuit on I-680 and a crash into a parked car that ended with an attempt to escape through yards and across roofs.
It started with a 5 a.m. call Friday morning to 911 from a man in the 1400 block of East Gate Way who reported "drilling or cutting" sounds outside his home, said Pleasanton police Lt. Jeff Bretzing; the three were attempting to steal a catalytic converter from the man's vehicle. Officers arrived within minutes and spotted two men and a woman in an older-model white Toyota Camry, which sped away after they saw police.
The car pulled into the oncoming lane on Valley Avenue, then onto I-680, where Bretzing said the driver hit speeds of 85 miles an hour before exiting onto Sunol Boulevard. He turned onto Junipero Street and found it blocked partway down by officers. The car turned off Junipero onto Lone Oak Drive, where the driver and another man jumped from the still-moving vehicle, which then slowly crashed into a parked car.
As the men fled on foot, dispatchers began to receive calls from residents who reported seeing the pair running through back yards, climbing over fences and darting across roofs, according to Bretzing. He said police surrounded the area and a search of yards led to the capture of the two, who were taken into custody without incident.
A woman was found hiding on the backseat of the crashed car. She had no apparent injuries, and Bretzing noted that no one was hurt as a result of the pursuit.
The two men, Ratha Bun, 31, and Sokcheath Hin, 29, and the woman, Somneary Hen, 26, all of Stockton, were arrested and booked at Santa Rita Jail for felony evading and theft.
"We found six catalytic converters in their vehicle, so they had already committed up to six thefts at that time. When officers arrived, they were scared away," Bretzing said.
He explained that catalytic converters are taken for the precious metals inside, adding that it's a relatively new crime which has peaked in the last three to five years.
"These thieves were captured not only because of a fast and effective police response but also in large part due to the many residents," Bretzing said.
He said the arrests are an example of the ongoing partnership between residents and the Police Department, calling it "a remarkable way to kick off National Crime Prevention Month."