Vietnam vet tackles robbery suspect |

Vietnam vet tackles robbery suspect

Jim Lutz Jr. enjoyed opening shop Friday morning at Art’s Cedar Ridge Gas & Auto Repair – and not just because the weekend was looming.

Lutz, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office reported, caught a would-be thief trying to make off with a pickup truck loaded with stereos, tools and garage equipment.

Two things stopped the alleged burglar, 23-year-old parolee Timothy J. Nielsen, the Sheriff’s Office said: a dead truck battery and Lutz.

“I had a little fun this morning – got my early-morning exercise,” Lutz said.

A 54-year-old Vietnam War veteran and former Hollywood bouncer, Lutz said he opened a gate leading to the rear of the shop when he saw a pickup easing backward and the steering wheel slowly turning. Then a head popped up.

Lutz suspected Nielsen was trying to jump-start the truck.

When that failed, Nielsen ran and slid under a parked vehicle, but Lutz – 6 feet 4 inches tall and 210 pounds – dragged Nielsen out by his legs.

Lutz said Nielsen tried to punch him, so he reciprocated.

“I punched his lights out, man,” Lutz said. “There was no (need) holding him down. Then I flipped him back on his belly and made him lay spread-eagle.”

Another worker called 911.

Shop owner Art Harris said stereos were ripped out of eight vehicles and tools, seat covers, compact discs and other items were removed. A floor jack and other equipment were loaded into the pickup. The items were neatly stacked and tied down with a tarp.

“So, he was working a big part of the night,” Harris said.

The Sheriff’s Office and Grass Valley police are looking into possible connections with other theft cases, including this week’s vehicle thefts at Brewer Heating and Refrigeration in Grass Valley.

A white 2000 Dodge pickup, primer-gray 1977 Chevy pickup and numerous tools still haven’t been recovered in that case.

Nielsen is being held without bail at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility because he’s accused of violating parole, Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Hanson said.

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