Tracy police arrested four 18-year-old men from Stockton early this morning after an officer interrupted them allegedly stealing wheels in a central Tracy neighborhood.
In a news release, Tracy Police Department reported that Darious Binder, Gregory Brice, Amir Brown and Serkiah Galloway were arrested and booked into San Joaquin County Jail on suspicion of grand theft, vandalism and conspiracy.
At 12:27 a.m., an officer on patrol saw a group of men running from the 1100 block of Walnut Avenue to a waiting U-Haul truck that then left the neighborhood. As the officer followed, a wheel and tire from a Toyota Camry and a concrete landscaping cinder block fell out of the truck.
The officer tried to stop the truck, but the driver did not stop and led police on a chase out of town and through rural Tracy toward Manteca.
California Highway Patrol officers joined the chase, and the truck was finally stopped in rural Manteca, where the four 18-year-olds were arrested. The driver and one passenger escaped on foot.
Police found more stolen wheels in the truck and gave them back to the owner of the Camry, which had been left up on blocks.
As of this afternoon, only Brice remained in jail on $175,000 bail. He is scheduled to be in the Manteca branch of the San Joaquin Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Police described the wheel thefts as part of a growing nationwide trend and said thieves often use moving trucks and vans, rental vehicles and even regular cars to avoid suspicion.
On Feb. 4, police arrested five other people, an 18-year-old man from Sacramento and four youths, in connection with a series of wheel thefts that targeted 10 vehicles across Tracy, mostly newer Toyotas and Hondas.
Police said car owners can use locking lug nuts on their wheels to make them harder to steal and also suggested being aware of U-Haul trucks and other moving vans driving through their neighborhoods at night.
Anyone with information about wheel thefts or any suspicious activity can call police at 831-6550. Anonymous tips can also be left with Tracy Crime Stoppers by calling 831-4847 or by texting TIPTPD to 274637.