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Unhoused man arrested for stealing excavator to help man change his tire in Downtown

"I was helping somebody," the suspect said. An unhoused man was arrested for stealing an excavator in Downtown San Diego to help someone change their tire.

SAN DIEGO — A man was arrested in Downtown San Diego Sunday morning for stealing an excavator from a construction site in an attempt to help a person change their tire.

San Diego police received a call from a construction worker in the 600 block of 10th Avenue in Downtown around 7 a.m. who said a man had stolen an excavator from his construction site.

"I saw this guy in the middle of the street with the excavator, crossing the street with it," Johan Chavarin, a construction worker, told OnScene.TV.

A man in the Grocery Outlet parking lot adjacent to the construction site said the man was approached by the suspect, who offered help to change his tire.

"...I did nothing wrong, and they are taking me for no reason," the suspect said while being interviewed from the rear of a police unit.

San Diego police told CBS 8 that the man who agreed to the assistance from the transient was unaware the suspect held no employment with the construction site and was not authorized to drive the excavator.

"He just said his dad taught him how to drive it and that he's a pro at it. I believe him. He's pretty good at driving it. He did minimal damage to the car, Chavarin said.

"He actually did lift it (the car) up; they actually did change the tire out," Chavarin continued.

The suspect was arrested on charges of stealing a vehicle and booked into jail, SDPD said.

The excavator was returned to the construction site.

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