Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Daniel Herreras was arrested and booked into the jail on charges of theft of means of transportation, burglary in the third degree, and theft. Additional charges of unlawful flight from law enforcement and reckless driving are pending.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD/PIMA – Two teenagers – one who stole a dirt bike – were both eventually caught after leading officers on a high-speed chase early Friday morning.
Daniel Herreras, 19, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on charges of theft of means of transportation, burglary in the third degree, and theft. Additional charges of unlawful flight from law enforcement and reckless driving are pending review by the County Attorney’s Office. His 15-year-old juvenile cohort was apprehended during the flight from officers after dumping his dirt bike and was referred to Juvenile Probation for unlawful flight from law enforcement and reckless driving.
According to reports from the Safford and Pima police departments, Safford and Thatcher officers initially spotted two dirt bikes eastbound on U.S. Highway 70 traveling at a high-rate of speed as the crossed 20th Avenue. A Safford sergeant spotted the bikes as they passed 5th Avenue and activated his emergency lights and siren to initiate a traffic stop.
The two bikers failed to stop, however, and instead split up at the intersection of U.S. Highway 70 and U.S. Highway 191 (1st Avenue).
Another Safford officer clocked the juvenile biker going 80 mph in a 35-mph zone southbound on 1st Avenue and engaged pursuit. The officer also noted that the biker traveled into the oncoming traffic lane to go around the officer’s vehicle.
During the pursuit, a Pima Police officer informed the officers that he had just taken a stolen dirt bike report and that the bike that continued eastbound – later learned to be ridden by Herreras – matched a green and white, 1995 Kawasaki KX250 reported stolen from a residence off 1300 South. Officers later learned that Herreras has seen the bike while returning from an outing at Cluff Ponds and decided to come back and steal it.
However, due to the reckless nature of the bikers, the pursuit was officially discontinued. While that was occurring, another officer had driven to Discovery Park Boulevard because he felt the biker might go that way to escape into the desert.
His hunch paid off and he came upon the juvenile biker traveling westbound. The biker swung wide to avoid the patrol vehicle and drove past the officer through some brush. The biker then lost control as he attempted to accelerate back onto the road and dumped the bike.
The biker then picked it back up and began to ride again, however, the officer blocked his way and opened his door, which struck the biker and knocked him off the motorcycle. The officer then took the juvenile biker into custody.
The juvenile said he and his friend were “just having fun” by running from the police. He positively identified Herreras as the other biker. The officer noted the juvenile remained jovial about the incident and “did not seem to fully understand his actions, the risks of those actions, and the pending consequences.”
The juvenile was arrested, but at the request of Juvenile Probation was released to his parents instead of being transported to the juvenile detention facility in Pinal County, which currently holds all of Graham County’s juveniles who are incarcerated.
Herreras managed to elude officers for the night and hid the stolen dirt bike near storage units east of Safford and put branches over it for camouflage.
However, that evening the motorcycle’s owner had sent out photos of the stolen bike and was informed that Herreras had taken it. The victim contacted Herreras over Facebook messenger, and after initially stating he had purchased the bike at Cluff Ponds, Herreras admitted to stealing it. Herreras allegedly told the victim that he was going to work on the dirt bike and then sell it and offered to pay for the damage to the bike and clean the victim’s yard. The call was recorded by the victim and given to the police.
After receiving the new information, the Pima Police officer located Herreras at his residence in Thatcher and placed him under arrest. During interrogation, Herreras admitted stealing the bike and that the 15-year-old juvenile drove him to get it but thought it was his cousin’s bike and that Herreras had permission to take it.
Herreras said he traveled the back roads to his house in Daley Estates and then the pair took off for a ride together and were soon chased by the police.
Herreras was then booked into the jail.