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Gutsy boy gives chase to carjacker
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Community Service Officer Barbara Hall and patrolman Jason Hensley remove fingerprints from a U-Haul truck used in a Manteca carjacking in the 300 block of North Main Street Monday noon. - photo by GLENN KAHL
A nine-year-old with a green belt in karate, who wouldn’t give up the chase, put a crimp in a carjacker’s escape route down a Manteca alley Thursday noon spotting him behind the wheel of a U-Haul truck.

The youth and his 54-year-old dad, Ramon Mendoza of Stockton, had parked their 2007 Ford Mustang Saleen convertible at the rear of a parking lot in the 300 block of North Main Street.  The dad went into the La Altena Mexican Market while the boy stayed in the car.

From the passenger seat he noticed a white male loitering in the parking lot and going to the market’s delivery van and looking inside.  When the senior Mendoza returned to his Mustang and sat down in the driver’s seat, the man walked up the driver’s window and asked for directions.

The nine-year-old acted as a translator, attempting to help the man get to where he was going.  At that point the youth said the stranger reached into the car and grabbed the car keys away from his father telling them both to get out of the car.

A short scuffle ensued and Mendoza attempted to hit the carjacker with his cane.  At that point – with the car keys in hand – the man took off running south down the alley. The boy, with his dad running behind him, pursued the suspect toward North Street.    The dad had to stop but his son kept going until he located the man in a U-Haul moving truck parked behind the Chicken Bowl restaurant at North and Main streets.

It was a truck that had been rented out of Los Angeles on August 9 and was to be returned on Thursday.  The boy said the small moving van then drove out of the parking lot and went eastbound on North Street, evidently turning north onto  Grant Street and circling around onto Sutter Street – just north of the La Altena Mexican Market.

The boy said that when the truck drove away he ran into the Chicken Bowl and called 911 being told by the dispatcher they were sending help.  The dad went back to the market and also called police.  Video cameras from other businesses recorded much of the chase.

The suspect had abandoned his truck in the 100 block of Sutter Street and scaled two fences to get back into the market parking lot where the Mustang was still parked, discarding the T-shirt at the fence next to the car.  A video surveillance camera shows the convertible being driven away from that parking lot going north on Main Street.

The young man was able to identify the truck where it was parked on Sutter Street and told officers that he did his best to remember the exact license number.

Family members said the car had been non-operational without any current insurance.  The value of the car on line is listed about $40,000.