It can't have been the day Clay Mauldin planned.
Early Friday morning, around 6:30, somebody stole one of his work trucks. The owner of Clayco Electric & Solar called San Diego Police to let them know the vehicle and a trailer were missing from the 6300 block of College Grove Way.
Sometime later that morning, Mauldin realized he was able to track some AirPods that one of his guys had left inside the stolen truck. Mauldin decided to go find his truck, following the GPS signal to an apartment complex in the 5500 block of Collwood Way, which is in the College neighborhood of San Diego, where, remarkably, he saw the white Dodge Ram pickup truck and trailer, which was now unhitched.
While Mauldin and his workers worked to hook up the trailer, 34-year-old Tov Rittmueller came out of one of the apartment and confronted Mauldin, police said.
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Improbably, Rittmueller then got into the stolen Clayco Electric & Solar truck and rammed Mauldin's gray pickup, then reversed and fled in the white truck (minus the traile)r, according to investigators.
Unluckily for Rittmueller, police said, he still had the AirPods in a backpack, so Mauldin and his crew just followed him again, this time a mile away, near the intersection of Dawson and Monroe avenues, where they found the white truck, unoccupied.
However, police said, Rittmueller had grabbed the backpack, so Mauldin turned on the tracker again, which led him to a McDonalds parking lot three miles away at 1515 Euclid Ave. Now, though, when Mauldin confronted Rittmueller, he was in a late-model Cadillac sedan, which police said was also stolen, taken from its owner in Carlsbad.
In an effort to flee, the Caddie crashed into a Toyota, driving up onto its hood, so, when Rittmueller fled on foot, Mauldin and Co. were able to catch up with him across the street in a market, where they made a citizen's arrest.
Police said Rittmueller faces two counts of possession of a stolen vehicle, one count of auto theft and a single count of assault with a deadly weapon.
Asked at the scene why he stole the vehicles, Rittmueller replied that his questioner would have to speak to his lawyer.