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Two suspects lead CHP on 4-hour chase

A 50-year-old man and his 39-year-old girlfriend were arrested on suspicion of stealing a tractor-trailer loaded with hundreds of melons late Friday night, California Highway Patrol officials said.

Highway Patrol officials followed the truck for four hours through three counties, said Sgt. John Antillon, with the Los Angeles County Cargo Theft Interdiction Program.

"One of the unusual things about cargo theft is that it's not the high-priced cargo that is commonly taken but just regular produce," he said. "There's no serial numbers on melons and it's easier to sell [them] on the black market."

The cargo interdiction team informed patrol officers from both Vernon and the City of Commerce, where the tractor-trailer had taken surface streets, to stop the massive vehicle but to no avail, he said.

The driver then made his way onto the southbound Interstate 5, later heading northbound on the 605 Freeway and then onto the eastbound 210 Freeway, where CHP officers from Rancho Cucamonga joined in the chase.

The driver eventually reached the southbound Interstate 15 where he was stopped by spike strips on Lake Street, in Lake Elsinore.

"After they lost use of their tires, they pulled to the side of the road," Antillon said.

The tractor trailer and the melons were not damaged, he said.

CHP officers negotiated with the two unarmed suspects for 30 minutes before they decided to turn themselves in peacefully, Antillon said.

The male suspect was in violation of his parole, and both suspects were arrested for grand theft auto and felony evading, Antillon said.
 
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