2 Oregon men suspected of theft lead Mount Shasta police on county-wide chase
Mount Shasta Police said they arrested two Oregon men on Monday after a car chase that took them from Mount Shasta, toward McCloud, then to Yreka.
The two suspects are Austin Eugene Hampton, 24, and Blake Jeffery Gehrig, 20, police said.
At 1 a.m., the Mount Shasta Police Department received a call from a man reporting more than $1,000 of his belongings were stolen out of his vehicle, Mount Shasta Police said. The caller gave a description of a vehicle he said drove away from the scene.
A few hours later, an officer spotted the vehicle, which had no license plates or taillights, as it traveled on Mount Shasta Boulevard.
When the officer signaled for the driver to pull over, the driver took off on Highway 89 toward McCloud, then turned around and came back toward Mount Shasta at more than 100 mph, police said.
Roads were icy, so the officer followed at a slower speed, Mount Shasta Police Sgt. Walter Moore said. He lost sight of the vehicle at the Interstate 5 interchange.
Moore and his K-9 partner Artie caught up with the vehicle while it was traveling northbound on Highway 97, toward County Road A12.
By then, roads were clear, but the driver spun out after he drove around a spike strip placed by police on A12. The car was smoking, Moore said.
The chase continued to Yreka, where the driver "made several dangerous decisions, including attempts to run officers off the road," according to the police report.
The car plowed through a fence, then stalled when the driver tried to go up a steep embankment onto I-5 near the end of Raymond Street, Moore said.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol assisted the Mount Shasta Police in arresting at gunpoint the driver —Hampton — and passenger Gehrig.
Artie's barking helped, too, Moore said.
Officers found the stolen items in the vehicle and returned them to the Mount Shasta man who reported the theft.
They also discovered the vehicle was stolen on Sunday in Oregon.
Hampton was booked on suspicion of vehicle theft, grand theft, evading a peace officer with wanton disregard for safety and assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon. All are felonies.
Gehrig was booked into jail on suspicion of grand theft.
The Mount Shasta Police Department asked people to do the following to avoid theft:
- Lock vehicle doors.
- Don't leave windows cracked or open.
- Don't leave keys in the vehicle.
- Don't leave a vehicle running, even for a minute.
- Don't store valuables inside a vehicle, or keep them out of view.
- Install and maintain vehicle alarms.
- Report suspicious activity to police.
Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.