A bold attempt to steal a truck from a Moraga household in broad daylight Sunday ended badly for at least one of the would-be thieves after his companion mistakenly ran him over during a freeway fistfight with the persistent, pursuing homeowner.
The resident, whose name we’ve agreed to withhold in the interest of his family’s safety, said he saw the thieves roll by his home on the Orinda/Moraga border in a white Ford Ranger at around 5:20 p.m., and that he sprang into action when he heard the distinctive sound of his own truck engine turning over.
“I knew what was happening but it was hard to believe it was happening on a Sunday, and in daylight,” he said. “At that point I was thinking: ‘do I pursue in the XXX (expensive car) or the Mercedes?’ I settled on the Mercedes and yelled to my wife to call 9-1-1.”
The Moraga man said he popped out onto Rheem Boulevard to head off the thieves, spotting the man now driving his truck and his wingman in the Ford Ranger, setting off after the pair and at one point pulling alongside his truck, the two men yelling at one another and the pursuing homeowner honking at the thief in a vain attempt to get him to pull over.
“That’s when he decided to ram me… in my truck. He hit me pretty good and then he t-ed me right up and he’s pushing me down the street like that, with me out in front of him. He hit another car, a Tesla, but my truck is hurting and the left front tire blows…”
The resident, who admits to some past experience in law enforcement, said his battered Mercedes eventually disengaged from his stolen truck’s front bumper. He looked up to see the Ford and his truck disappearing down Rheem Boulevard toward Glorietta. To his surprise, the Mercedes was still running.
“I thought ‘I’m still in the game’ so I went down to Glorietta, thinking maybe they were heading west to Oakland and looking that way but then I looked right and I saw the back end of the Ranger make the turn by the old Lesher estate so I went right…”
The Moraga man said the thief in the Ranger was trying to screen the limping pickup they had just stolen but that his vehicle was in obvious trouble and by that time rolling on its front rim, the driver unable to make the turn onto the freeway.
“I catch up and tackle the guy in my truck and we’re swinging away and I’m trying to keep an eye on the one in the Ranger, who pulls up and I’m watching to see what he’s going to do when he pulls forward, then backs up and comes at me,” the Moraga man said. “I jumped out of the way but he rolled right over his friend, and the guy disappears under the truck. I’ve never seen that before.”
With his primary foe down and out of the fight the would-be victim said he engaged the second driver in the Ranger, who for some reason elected to inform him “I have a warrant,” while the homeowner tried to get the thief’s car keys and immobilize his truck.
“But then it occurred to me his truck was probably stolen, too, and that there were no keys. He got out with a pair of bolt cutters in his hands… and that’s when Moraga PD and then Orinda showed up.”
The local man said the first officers concentrated on the thief who was down and the one in the Ford Ranger drove off, west on Highway 24. Despite the crash and roadside fisticuffs he said he was unhurt, while the man he’d wrestled with was transferred to John Muir Medical Center for treatment. His condition was not available.
The second alleged thief was believed to have made a clean getaway. The would-be victim said the best acknowledgement came when he limped home in his battered Mercedes, his disabled truck towed away by police.
“My wife looked at me and said ‘good job,'” he said.
But any sense of satisfaction he may have felt was short-lived.
“We’re moving out of state in a couple of months,” he said. “We were going to use my truck for the move.”