The quick actions of an alert neighbor helped a Placer County Sheriff’s deputy arrest a man who was allegedly attempting to steal a $25,000 tractor from a Loomis ranch early Sunday morning, sheriff’s spokeswoman Dena Erwin said.
The suspect was arrested as he fled with the John Deere tractor through downtown Loomis, a quiet community of 6,700 in rural Placer County. It was the neighbor’s call to 911 that alerted deputies to be on the lookout, Erwin said.
“The victim was not home because he was working that night,” Erwin said. “If it wasn’t for the neighbor, that man would have been long gone with the tractor.”
The incident started just past midnight Sunday when a man who lived on Laird Road, near Rutherford Canyon Road, heard a loud noise coming from his neighbor’s property. When he went to investigate, he saw a stranger driving his neighbor’s tractor, Erwin said.
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He didn’t get very far. At midnight, in downtown Loomis, there’s not a lot of automobile traffic.
Dena Erwin, Placer County Sheriff’s Office
The stranger, whom deputies identified as John Riley Gray, 25, of Windsor, drove the big green tractor onto a flatbed trailer attached to his truck. The neighbor quickly notified authorities, Erwin said.
“The neighbor was yelling at him, saying that he called the Sheriff’s Office and to stop,” she said.
Instead of stopping, Gray fled in the truck, driving at high speeds with an unfastened tractor in tow. A deputy saw Gray minutes later at the Horseshoe Bar Road and Taylor Road in downtown Loomis.
“He didn’t get very far,” Erwin said. “At midnight in downtown Loomis there’s not a lot of automobile traffic.”
The deputy stopped and arrested Gray, Erwin said. He was booked into the Placer County jail later that morning on a felony grand theft charge and for violating his parole, according to Placer County inmate logs. He is being held without bail, Erwin said.
The tractor was returned to its owner, Erwin said.