A Friday night traffic stop took a strange turn for the Lodi Police Department, when an officer’s vehicle was temporarily stolen as he pursued a suspect on foot.
When a Lodi police officer attempted to stop a vehicle in the area of East Pine Street and South Main Street at approximately 11:30 p.m. Friday, the vehicle initially failed to yield and pulled into a nearby alley, according to Sgt. Steve Maynard.
The driver, 35-year-old Joshua Sequeira of Lodi, fled the vehicle on foot and the officer left his patrol vehicle unattended as he gave chase before other officers responded to assist and located him nearby, Maynard said.
While Sequeira fought with officers before being taken into custody, 33-year-old Brian Joachim of Lodi reportedly jumped into the unattended patrol vehicle and drove by the officers, yelling at them before speeding away, police reported.
“He’s one of our frequent flyers,” Maynard said of Joachim.
Officers found the patrol vehicle unoccupied in the area of East Pine Street and Beckman Road, having crashed into a Caltrans fence pole, and located Joachim nearby before taking him into custody.
Officers said they found a loaded AR-15 rifle and an extended magazine in Sequeira’s vehicle, and arrested him on suspicion of multiple weapons violations and resisting arrest.
Joachim was arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft, resisting arrest and evading.
This is not the first time a Lodi police officer’s vehicle has been stolen, Maynard said, but a GPS system installed in each car allows the department to track their locations.
“We know where (a vehicle) is at all times, and then everyone gets involved in trying to recover it,” he said.
Although officers take every precaution they can to prevent their vehicles from being stole, Maynard said the split-second decisions required when responding to emergencies such as Friday night’s traffic stop can make it difficult for officers to predict how a suspect might act.
“In a situation like that where they guy jumps out and runs and he has a loaded assault rifle in his car, we don’t know if he’s going to get back in and start shooting,” he said. “You take every precaution you can, but you can’t always cover everything that might happen.”