Dogs safely recovered after 100 mph pursuit and crash following Redding car theft

REDDING, Calif., — Authorities say a wanted felon with a lengthy criminal history who stole a car from a Redding business was arrested after leading officials on a dangerous, high-speed pursuit before being involved in a solo-vehicle, rollover crash yesterday afternoon, July 26.

Two dogs that had been left inside the running vehicle as it sat parked outside the business were later recovered – uninjured – and returned to their grateful owner, said officials.


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City of Redding police officers were alerted to the vehicle and dog theft around 4:45 p.m. when the owner of a white Nissan Maxima reported that her vehicle had been stolen after she left her vehicle’s engine running with the AC on for her dogs while she was shopping inside Food Maxx on Churn Creek Road, Redding Police Corporal Ryan Ellis has since reported.

A little more than an hour later, an officer spotted the stolen vehicle being driven on Hwy 44 near E. Stillwater. However, when officers attempted to stop the vehicle the driver, later identified as Nicholas Michael Baragno, 29, of Chester, refused to yield and sped away from officers.

Nicholas Baragno, 29, was arrested after leading Redding PD and CHP officers on a dangerous stolen vehicle pursuit that reached speeds of 100 mph before the fleeing and wanted felon was involved in a solo-vehicle, rollover crash. KRCR photos

During the subsequent chase, Baragno drove in an extremely reckless manner without regard for the safety of other citizens or pursuing officers and was soon hitting speeds in excess of 100 mph and was seen running red lights and stop signs and driving on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic.

Redding police officers requested assistance from area law enforcement agencies and the chase was eventually turned over to California Highway Patrol ground and air officers.

At around 6 p.m., as the pursuit continued eastbound on Hwy. 44 toward Shingletown, Baragno was involved in a solo-vehicle rollover crash while attempting to make a high-speed U-Turn on Inwood Road near Anselmo Vineyards. The stolen vehicle came to rest on its side and Baragno reportedly complied with officials and was taken into custody without further incident.

Although the victim’s two terrified dogs were found to be uninjured inside the overturned Nissan, while officers were attempting to pull the pets from the overturned vehicle one of the traumatized dogs ran off. Thankfully, it was soon captured and placed into an officer’s patrol vehicle until the victim could make arrangements for her boyfriend to go to the scene of the crash and recover the couple’s pets.

A local woman was lucky and grateful to get her two pit bulls back uninjured after a wanted felon with a lengthy criminal history stole her parked and running vehicle from a Redding Food Maxx yesterday afternoon. KRCR photo

Officers learned Baragno had multiple warrants for his arrest and during a subsequent search of the stolen vehicle, officers located a stolen handgun on the floorboard of the vehicle. 

Baragno was later booked into the Shasta County Jail in Redding on numerous new felony charges as well as his warrants.

The victim whose vehicle and dogs were stolen, Theresa Callegari, has since told SCNS that the ordeal has left her dogs, Axel and Mika, traumatized and afraid of going near vehicles.

“Axel’s at the vet at the moment. He couldn’t walk this morning,” Callegari desribed; adding, “Mika’s terrified to ride in the car. So I’m really pissed at this guy.”

“I do believe my two dogs being inside my stolen car really sparked a fire in our officers,” the grateful dog owner continued. “I’m not saying they wouldn’t do their job, but most dog people can relate to our dogs being like our kids, so it really becomes personal.”

Anyone with further information about this investigation is encouraged to contact Redding Police Department at (530) 225-4200. Callers can refer to incident file number 21R048870 and can remain anonymous.

Contact the writer: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.