Cameras capture gas thief's wild ride

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

MESA, Ariz. -- A suspected gasoline thief crashed his truck into a home, after catching fire during the theft.

Mesa police say a man, later identified as Herbert C. Ridge, 37, was using a homemade electric gas siphon to steal fuel from a truck in a driveway near Signal Butte and Broadway roads Wednesday afternoon.

A spark from the siphoning device may have caught Ridge's clothes on fire.

He ran into the street, rolling around, trying to extinguish the flames.

When he got back into his truck to flee the scene, the flames spread from the suspect's clothing to the interior of the pickup.

Ridge bailed out the door, but the truck kept rolling and crashed into a garage a few homes down from the site of the theft.

"I heard a loud boom, an explosion, and just came running looking for hoses to put out the fire," neighbor Tim Worth told 3TV.

Mitch Drum caught the whole thing on newly installed surveillance cameras. He ran after the suspect, who took off on foot after the crash.

"His shirt was on fire, but by the time I got to him he'd taken it off, and it was obvious that he'd been burned," Drum said. He was covered in soot and residue."

Ridge was taken to the Maricopa County Burn Unit. He was the only one injured.

Charges of theft, DUI, felony criminal damage and possession of dangerous drugs are pending.