CLEARFIELD -- Raul Varela was in disbelief Monday afternoon when he saw the John Deere front loader leave his job site on 200 South.
"I asked, 'Who is in the front loader?' " said Varela, heavy equipment operator with Ogden-based Advance Paving Construction.
After a quick check of who was working, Varela and his boss realized the driver was not someone they knew.
"Follow them," his boss said, which is what Varela did while his boss and others called 911.
Clearfield police went after the front loader that was stolen from 550 W. 200 South at 3:34 p.m.
Several units got involved in the 20-minute chase, with speeds as high as 20 mph.
The chase ended near 700 South, close to Freeport Center's east entrance.
Assistant Clearfield Police Chief Mike Stenquist said he was traveling north near one of the railroad spurs in the Freeport Center when he saw in his rear-view mirror the front loader "launching into the air" from an embankment by the railroad track near a building.
The front loader crashed into a fence, tearing it apart before coming to a stop.
"I had just passed that spot and feel lucky I didn't get sandwiched underneath it," Stenquist said.
Police Chief Greg Krusi and Lt. Adam Malan caught the suspect as he tried to run through the parking lot next to the crash site.
The suspect has been identified as Caseton P. Burruss, 38, of Providence, which is in Cache County near Logan.
Stenquist said the suspect caused damage to the front loader, which is worth between $150,000 and $180,000, plus railroad tracks, fences and gates in Freeport Center, and the city's asphalt walking trail.
At one point, the suspect appeared to aim the loader at one of the police cars trying to keep him from getting on a road.
Stenquist said Clearfield and Layton detectives discovered that, in addition to the loader, Burruss stole a car from a Layton dealership around 2 p.m. Monday and, when it ran out of gas, stole another car from a Clearfield residence. He crashed the second car into a dirt embankment at the Freeport Center before stealing the front loader.
He was charged with three counts of felony auto theft, felony evading, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident, three counts of criminal mischief, and trespassing. He was booked in Davis County Jail.