The driver of a stolen vehicle led law enforcement officers on a short pursuit Thursday before crashing in Santa Maria, where a man and a woman were taken into custody.

The California Highway Patrol Auto Theft Task Force was conducting operations in Santa Maria when a member spotted a Honda on the “hot sheet,” or list of stolen vehicles, Officer Dave Medina said. 

Before a CHP officer could activate lights to initiate a traffic stop, the Honda’s driver sped up to evade capture, Medina said.

“The Honda traveled through several streets before going north on College Avenue where it lost control and collided with a planter box in front of the building at the corner of Chapel Street just north of Main Street,” Medina said. 

“The male driver and right front female passenger ran in different directions, but the CHP K9 immediately behind the vehicle pursued the suspects with help from Auto Theft Task Force personnel.

Arrested and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail were driver Rogelio Andrade Garcia, 27, and passenger Vanessa Buenrostro, 24, both from Santa Maria.

The CHP serves as the statewide auto theft coordinator to reduce number of stolen vehicles in community.

“Auto theft has a direct impact on the quality of life for those in our community,” the CHP said on its Faceblook page.

This week, the Santa Maria CHP led a joint operation with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Maria Police Department, Guadalupe Police Department, State Parole, and County Probation Office.

“As a result, we made hundreds of enforcement contacts, several arrests for crimes including auto theft, felony evading, parole violations, outstanding warrants, narcotics possession for sale, and felon in possession of a firearm, to name a few,” the CHP said. 

A high number of stolen vehicles in the Santa Maria Valley sparked efforts several years ago to focus on reducing the crime.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.