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Dog sniffs out auto theft suspect hiding in hollowed out box spring
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Detective Steve Harris and fire department medics attempt to quiet auto theft suspect Ruben Thomas Farnsworth, 37, as he is loaded into an ambulance after being apprehended by sheriff’s police dog, “Spike.” - photo by GLENN KAHL

An auto theft suspect made a stop for surgery at county hospital before going to county jail Wednesday morning after a bout with a sheriff’s police dog.

An undercover officer from the Delta Regional Auto Theft Task Force (DELTARAT) had spotted Ruben Thomas Farnsworth, 37, and his girlfriend removing items from the stolen 1972 Mercedes that was parked at the curb in the 300 block of Cherry Lane just north of Eucalyptus.

The officer called for marked Manteca units to move into the area and detain the couple before they went into the house.  Farnsworth reportedly fled into the front door and disappeared.  Officers detained the woman briefly and searched the interior of the residence.

Unable to find Farnsworth they concluded he had probably gone into the attic.  They discharged a flash-bang grenade in the attic and later discovered he was not there.   No Manteca police canines were on duty to search for the man and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Canine Unit was called out for mutual aid.  Deputies were in training and two responded but with one dog, “Spike,” and his handler Terry Shaefer.

It didn’t take “Spike” long to find Farnsworth who was hiding in a bed – actually in a hollowed out box spring.  The canine located him and bit into his stomach and arm.  One of the deputies had to pull the man’s arm out of the corner of the box spring so he would fall out.

He was loaded into the ambulance apparently in extreme pain; however he reportedly admitted to officers that he had been on a drug high for several days. Farnsworth was booked into San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp.  He was booked for auto theft, possession of stolen property and felony evading of police officers.  Farnsworth was also cited for violation of domestic violence court order.

The car had been stolen out of Santa Cruz on March 24, police said.