Police ID burglary suspect after short chase

Police have identified a residential burglary suspect who crashed his car near a BART trackway after a police pursuit Thursday morning in Walnut Creek as Joel Steffensen.

Steffensen was allegedly involved in a minute-long vehicle pursuit that ended when he crashed through a fence alongside BART tracks, causing major delays on the Pittsburg-Bay Point line.

The pursuit began after Walnut Creek police officers were dispatched around 7:30 a.m. to reports of a burglary at a single-family home in the 2700 block of Walnut Boulevard, Lt. Lanny Edwards said.

Responding officers found Steffensen outside the home but he immediately got into a vehicle and fled, Edwards said.

While speeding away, Steffensen crashed his car into another vehicle, Edwards said. The other vehicle sustained minor damage but the driver was not injured.

The vehicle pursuit ended only a minute later when Steffensen crashed his car into a fence that runs parallel to BART tracks at Walden and Jones roads, Edwards said.

Along the route, he had passed by Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputies, who joined in the chase when Steffensen left his crashed vehicle and fled on foot.

After hopping fences and trying to evade officers and deputies through the backyards of several homes, Steffensen was apprehended at 7:37 a.m., not far from where the crash occurred, Edwards said.

A brief struggle ensued while he was being taken into custody, Edwards said.

Steffensen suffered minor injuries not considered life-threatening during the earlier crash, Edwards said.

The fence he crashed into was pushed within about three feet of the BART tracks between the Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek stations, BART spokesman Jim Allison said.

Allison said trains had to single-track through the area while crews removed the vehicle. He said the car was removed and service began again in both directions as of about 8:40 a.m.

Certain eastbound trains on the Pittsburg-Bay Point line that only run during commute hours had to turn around at the Lafayette station as a result of the incident, he said.

Meanwhile, Steffensen was taken to a hospital for treatment of his injuries and will be booked into the Martinez Detention Facility following his release.

Steffensen, a parolee, is being arrested on suspicion of various offenses. Edwards said there are no other outstanding suspects in the case.