When Ceres Police Officer Nicolas Welsh heard that a marijuana dispensary business in Riverbank had been burglarized by multiple armed subjects early Saturday, a hunch told him that they may be on the way to a shop in Ceres to do the same.
Welsh and other officers from the Ceres Police Department heard the call at 3 a.m. and scurried off to different cannabis shop in Ceres to keep a lookout for them and provide extra patrol. Officers specifically were looking for four vehicles from the Riverbank theft: a black Mercedes, a gray Lexus, a black Hyundai and a white Infinity. At approximately 3:26 a.m. Officer Welsh was in the 4000 block of Farm Supply Drive watching a dispensary when six suspect vehicles approached the dispensary, four of them matching the descriptions from the Riverbank incident. Welsh followed the vehicles as they traveled southbound on Farm Supply Drive and then onto Brew Master Drive. The drivers picked up speed before making U-turns and passing Officer Welsh’s patrol car. He was able to see that the drivers were wearing full ski masks.
Officer Welsh went after the vehicles as they sped up and blew through the stop sign at Farm Supply Drive and Service Road. When the vehicles began driving recklessly, he initiated an enforcement stop by activating his emergency lights and siren. The drivers failed to yield and Officer Welsh initiated a pursuit westbound on Service Road to Carpenter Road. The drivers turned off their headlights at speeds of 100 mph. The chase went northbound on Carpenter Road and then westbound on Maze Blvd (Highway 132). Officer Welsh followed northbound on Highway 580 to the 205 where the California Highway Patrol took over the pursuit but lost visual contact with it.
One of the vehicles chased from Ceres ended up in San Leandro. Other license plate numbers traced back to Bay Area addresses. One was stolen. No information was available on any possible arrests but the crew of about 12 or 13 suspects is believed to be from the Bay Area.
Stanislaus County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Hickman said the armed suspects broke into the Riverbank business in the 5700 block of Terminal Avenue just after 3 a.m. The facility’s security system alerted the owners, who called 911. By the time deputies responded less than three minutes later all the suspects had fled. The would-be thieves were attempting to carry two totes of product but they dropped it as they fled the scene.