A man drove off in a California Highway Patrol car Friday evening then led officers in a high-speed chase in Fresno, prompting several other marked vehicles to pursue after him. It happened around 6 p.m. and started near the intersection of Temperance and North avenues in the Clovis area. A CHP officer was attempting to clear out the area where a collision took place when one of the passengers who was involved in the crash decided to slip into the officer’s patrol vehicle and drive off.
What happened next might’ve seemed like scripted comedy. But the officer who had his vehicle stolen certainly was not laughing.
The officer called for assistance and immediately chased after the suspect by riding in a civilian’s vehicle that belonged to an off-duty fire personnel. The man who stole the CHP car, meanwhile, managed to turn on the patrol vehicle’s lights and siren while driving south. Sgt. Joseph Bianchi said the chase lasted about five miles and five minutes as several other CHP vehicles eventually got involved to help put the kibosh on the man’s unauthorized joy ride. Biachi added that officers were able to keep a visual of the stolen patrol vehicle throughout the pursuit. The driver of the stolen patrol car did manage to reach speeds as great as 70 to 80 mph, according to CHP.
The driver eventually was stopped at the overpass above Highway 180 near the Peach Avenue exit. Authorities identified the suspect as Clayton Parker, 34, of Fresno. Parker was arrested without incident and faces charges of auto theft, evading police, DUI of drugs and alcohol, driving on a suspended license, parole violation and resisting arrest. Parker might’ve been under the influence of a substance, CHP said. No injuries occurred in the pursuit, CHP added.