Forklift Thief Jailed After Slow Speed Chase in California

December 20, 2011

Police used a stun gun to subdue a combative California forklift thief who led officers on a 10-mile slow speed chase in the San Joaquin Valley.

Modesto police Sgt. Kathleen Blom tells the Modesto Bee that black smoke bellowing from the 25-ton Hyster forklift’s exhaust made it easy to find.

The forklift, which can reach 25 mph, was chased Sunday morning from Oakdale to Modesto.

Investigators say 48-year-old Jerry Depalma stole the forklift from Brown Sheet Metal and Mechanical in Oakdale. A suspected accomplice, 51-year-old Irvin Turpitt, has eluded capture.

Authorities say Depalma jumped off the forklift and ran into an orchard, where officers used a stun gun to arrest him.

Investigators believe the thieves planned to sell the forklift for metal scrap.

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