Suspected car theft leads Chowchilla police on car chase through almond orchard

Matthew Johnson, 25
Matthew Johnson, 25

A 25-year-old man from Chowchilla suspected of stealing a car led police on a car chase Wednesday, the Chowchilla Police Department reported.

The car was reported stolen on the 500 block of Cherry Way the morning of the chase, according to police. The victim left their car running "for a short period of time" while they stepped inside and when they came out their car was gone.

Officers spotted the stolen car on the 400 block of Colusa Ave. at about 3:04 p.m., police said. The driver, identified by police as Matthew Johnson, fled in the car and led officers on a pursuit to Avenue 24  ½ and Road 15 where officers lost him in an almond orchard, according to authorities.

Seconds later a witness told police the car left the almond orchard on Road 15  ½ and was last seen going east on Colusa Avenue, police said. The car was parked unoccupied in the 1200 block of Mariposa Ave.

Officers tracked down Johnson at a nearby home, police said, and arrested him. Johnson was booked into the Madera County Department of Corrections for felony evading, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle and for a violation of his parole for possession of a stolen vehicle.

Since 2015, police said, Johnson has been arrested in Chowchilla three times for evading police while driving stolen vehicles.

Monica Velez: 209-385-2486, @monicavelez21