A brazen early Sunday morning door smash and attempted theft of a money-dispensing machine at the front of the CVS Pharmacy on Hatch Road ended with the arrest of one suspect and a Ceres police canine being injured and taken out of commission.
Police responded to a burglar alarm at CVS at the northwest corner of Hatch Road and Central Avenue at 1:58 a.m. Ceres Police Sgt. Pat Sullivan and Joe Wren rolled up to the scene and saw a rental van backed up to the broken glass doors and the 300-pound ATM machine had been dragged out into the parking lot. The officers heard a suspect yell, "Go! Go! Go!" as they watched two men climb into a Budget rental van. The pair fled out the Central Avenue parking lot exit onto northbound Central Avenue. As officers followed the van, one suspect began throwing items, including a 40-gallon steel fuel drum and a large industrial dolly, into the path of the patrol cars.
The chase continued up Central Avenue to where it makes a 90-degree turn to the left. However, the driver turned eastbound onto Live Oak Court, a private road, when he realized they were headed into a dead-end. The driver crashed through a yard and locked gate and into the front of a guest home at 2230 Live Oak Court.
The driver bailed on foot and scaled a wall while passenger Steven Hendrick, 36, of Modesto, was held at gunpoint by Sullivan.
During the foot pursuit of the driver, Officer Joe Wren's police canine Zeus suffered a debilitating injury that resulted in an escape. According to Police Lt. Brent Smith, Wren lifted the German Shepherd over a fence but its leg became caught in the fence, resulting in a break to a leg bone. In his attempt to free the dog from the fence, the pain got the best of the dog and bit Wren himself. The dog was eventually freed and taken to a local veterinarian but the suspect escaped.
Smith said the injury could take Zeus out of commission between two to three months if it's able to return to work at all.
"They're keeping the dog medicated," said Smith. "We're just waiting to see what happens. He's one of our best dogs."
The Budget rental van - which may have been used to back into the front doors - had been stolen, confirmed Lt. Smith.
The thieves left the heavy ATM machine in the parking lot "because they saw us coming in."
Hendrick was arrested and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, commercial burglary, violation of probation, possession of methamphetamine, assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
A secondary crash occurred on Central Avenue when a police vehicle slid out of control when it passed through a puddle of slick fuel spilled when the drum hit the road. Minor damage occurred to the patrol car.
Hendrick refused to disclose the identity of his accomplice. Lt. Smith said officers were combing over the confiscated van on Monday in an attempt to find about clues.
"We're going to come up with a suspect. This type of crime has been going on in this area and we think it might be related to other burglaries."