Riverside police car stolen; spike strip ends the ride

A 33-year-old woman who Riverside police say was under the influence stole a patrol car on Wednesday, June 22, and wasn’t stopped until a spike strip flattened two tires on the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore.

Even then, she tried to run, but she was quickly handcuffed, said Officer Javier Cabrera, a police spokesman.

The car was taken as officers checked on the welfare of someone in the area of La Sierra Avenue and Montlake Drive at about 6 p.m. As officers investigated, someone alerted them that a woman had jumped into the car and driven off.

Officers usually lock their cars and take the keys, Cabrera said. But police cars are sometimes seen at crime scenes with the engines running and the keys removed. In this case, Cabrera said, the department didn’t immediately know how the woman was able to steal the car.

The Police Department helicopter crew spotted the car traveling south on the 15 Freeway in the area of the Dog Lagos shopping center in Corona. Riverside County sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers gave chase and were able to stop the car when a spike strip deployed near Central Avenue flattened the two passenger-side tires, Cabrera said.

There was no other damage to the car and no one was reported injured, Cabrera said.

The woman was arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto, obstructing a public officer, reckless driving and driving under the influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs, according to the county jail log.

She had a warrant out for her arrest in a 2020 DUI case, Superior Court records show. She was being held at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside in lieu of $100,000 bail.

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