Ninja-like response to stolen Fresno car

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An American Ninja Warrior is now the victim of a stolen car, but the crook's run didn't last long thanks to an alert sheriff's deputy. (KFSN)

An American Ninja Warrior is now the victim of a stolen car, but the crook's run didn't last long thanks to an alert sheriff's deputy.

Thad Robeck sees obstacles and he jumps them. He sees a problem and he rolls with it. So when this American Ninja Warrior contestant came home from the gym to find his 1994 Honda Civic missing from his southeast Fresno driveway, he had a moment of anger, but it didn't incapacitate him. "You know, I was pretty upset, but I couldn't say I was surprised," Robeck said. "It's always been in the back of my mind. It's the most commonly stolen car and the way it's been modified makes it a target for thieves."

Robeck also races cars, but the Civic was his first car and it's not really road ready. Smog problems and bad brakes have kept him from even registering the car. And that's why a sheriff's deputy spotted the stolen car less than an hour after Robeck reported it gone.

"Sure enough it came back that it had expired registration, so that warranted him to try and pull the vehicle over," said Fresno County Sheriff's Office spokesman Tony Botti. "The driver decided to go another block."

But in the middle of the chase, what the suspect didn't know came back to haunt him. Faulty brakes locked up and that suspect had nowhere to go. Deputies arrested 19-year-old Michael Chan on auto theft charges and gave the car back to Robeck, complete with a little present. "That battery was a donation from the thief," Robeck said, pointing to the battery in the spot where he previously had nothing. The thief had added a battery to get the car moving.

Even with new parts, the car is out of commission, unlike Robeck's ninja career. He's already submitted an application for the show's next season -- maybe a little too soon, according to one of his friends. "He said, 'I'm sorry this happened but maybe it would've been great if it happened right before the submission videos were due,'" Robeck said.

One more obstacle overcome, Robeck is right back on course.

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