Man fleeing police in stolen vehicle crashes into tree in Atascadero

A man whom police are struggling to identify led officers on a chase in a stolen vehicle  on Tuesday. He then crashed into a tree, fled by foot, but was ultimately arrested.

Shortly after 1 p.m., a white man in a Dodgers jersey was seen removing the entire front license plate and partially removing the rear plate from a pickup truck, police said.

A bystander at Chalk Mountain Liquor reported the unusual behavior and the license plate number to police. Investigators determined the vehicle had been stolen out of Buellton. 

Officers located the vehicle on El Camino Real by Highway 41 and tried to conduct a traffic stop. The driver fled, traveling on Lewis Avenue near Atascadero Middle School before crashing into a tree.

After crashing the stolen truck, the suspect left the vehicle and fled into the creek bed by the Lewis Bridge. Officers set up a perimeter and mounted a search for the suspect.

With the help of a K-9 officer, officers located the man in the creek bed. However, the man refused to identify himself, police said. 

During the chase, authorities issued a shelter-in-place order at the Atascadero Middle School, police said.