Ryan Curtis Wilhite. Photo: Riverside County Sheriff's Department
Ryan Curtis Wilhite. Photo: Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

An ex-con accused of forcibly taking a Temecula man’s pickup truck and later stealing a motorcycle during a test drive was charged Wednesday with carjacking and other felonies.

Ryan Curtis Wilhite, 27, of San Jacinto was arrested Saturday following a Riverside County sheriff’s investigation during which a helicopter was used to locate the defendant. Along with the carjacking count, Wilhite is charged with auto theft and a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

The convicted felon was arraigned before Superior Court Judge Mark Mandio, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for May 5 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta and set Wilhite’s bail at $250,000.

The defendant is being held at the Southwest Detention Center.

According to sheriff’s officials, on the evening of April 12, Wilhite accosted a Temecula man sitting in his pickup truck outside his home. The defendant pulled a handgun and forced the man out of the vehicle, then sped away in it, Sgt. Steve Fredericks alleged.

He said that deputies searched the area but couldn’t find the truck.

About 2 p.m. last Saturday, Wilhite went to a residence in the 42000 block of Orange Blossom Drive in Temecula, where a motorcycle was advertised for sale, according to Fredericks.

Wilhite was in the pickup that he’d allegedly taken earlier this month, offering to leave the vehicle as collateral while he took the motorcycle for a spin, the sergeant said. The motorcycle owner, unaware of the status of the truck, agreed, Fredericks said.

“When the suspect never returned with the motorcycle, the victim notified deputies,” Fredericks said.

A sheriff’s helicopter crew was summoned to conduct a search for the defendant and motorcycle, which was eventually spotted parked outside his residence in the 2000 block of Tall Grass Court, according to Fredericks. Deputies converged on the location and arrested Wilhite without incident.

According to court records, Wilhite has several unrelated misdemeanor cases pending, including one for burglary. No information was available regarding his prior offenses.

–City News Service

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