By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
When Joe Francis' truck was taken from his Crescent City workplace Monday, he lamented not having insurance to cover theft.
He found out the next day, however, that he didn't need insurance after all.
Francis was on his way to Brookings, Ore., Tuesday to buy a new car when he spotted his truck headed the other way. He decided to follow it and take it back.
"It was pretty lucky on my part and pretty stupid on his part for driving the truck around here," Francis said.
Francis had just crossed the Oregon border when he saw the truck and turned to follow it. He said the driver didn't seem to know he was being followed and turned west onto North Indian Road and into the driveway of a home there.
After the man, later identified by authorities as 38-year-old Shawn Ray Hill, a parolee from Folsom State Prison, went into the house, Francis sneaked up to the car and took it back.
"I knew the key gets stuck in the ignition, so I figured it would be in there ¬Ė that's probably why it got stolen in the first place," Francis said.
Carrying a can of pepper spray from his fiance's purse, Francis said he was ready if Hill came out of the house.
"If he came out, I was going to ask directions to some address and then spray him in the face," he said.
Hill did not come out of the house, however, and Francis successfully drove his car away to the nearby Lucky 7 Casino to await the California Highway Patrol.
"I'm sure he was thoroughly confused about getting the truck stolen out of the driveway," said Francis.
The Highway Patrol did arrive and went to the house to arrest Hill, who is now in Del Norte County Jail where he is being held on charges of taking a vehicle without consent and receiving stolen property, according to the Del Norte County Sheriff's Office.
Though the engine was ruined, according to Francis, he was able to trade in the truck for a late-model van Wednesday and seemed happy with his new vehicle.