Two Hughson men and one Turlock man were arrested Tuesday, June 13 after they were caught driving a big rig truck reported stolen out of Oakdale.
Mark Smith, 48, and Derrick Delhart, 51, both of Hughson, and James Sass, 36, of Turlock, were all taken into custody by the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force and booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of auto theft and conspiracy. Sass also was arrested on a felony no bail warrant for a previous auto theft case.
The arrest of the three men began when agents with StanCATT spotted a 2012 Kenworth big rig in the area of W. Main Street in Turlock. The big rig had recently been reported stolen to the Oakdale Police Department.
StanCATT agents started surveilling the big-rig and followed it as it drove through various areas of the county. While conducting surveillance on the big rig, StanCATT was able to positively identify the driver as Sass.
While conducting surveillance of the stolen big rig, StanCATT agents observed a GMC pickup following the stolen big rig. At certain points the two vehicles cruised through the back lots of stores appearing to look for unattended trailers that could be hooked up and hauled away. The big rig and pickup made their way through Waterford and Knights Ferry before entering Tuolumne County, and eventually stopped in Jamestown for a brief period of time. They later started moving again and headed toward to Sonora.
StanCATT agents and other law enforcement agencies performed a traffic stop on the big rig and the GMC truck and detained all three men without incident.
StanCATT agents requested the help of the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department, the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, the California Highway Patrol offices in Modesto and Sonora and the CHP Central Division Air Operations Air 43 to assist in the surveillance of the suspects and the arrest.
The Kenworth was returned to the owner at the scene.
"This was an outstanding team effort and wouldn't have been made possible if it wasn't for the cooperation through all agencies involved," StanCATT stated on their Facebook page.
Delhart, the son of Ceres furniture store owner and former Ceres mayor Jim Delhart, was arrested March 15 on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, assault with caustic chemicals and using a firearm during the commission of a crime.