Costa Mesa police Wednesday arrested a man who allegedly tried to break into a truck using a welding torch so he could steal expensive equipment inside.

At about 5 a.m., an officer saw a Dodge minivan in the 1500 block of Wintergreen Place with its license plates covered, according to a news release from the Costa Mesa Police Department.

When the officer pulled up in his squad car, the minivan sped away down an alley before the driver and another man ditched the vehicle and fled on foot, police said.

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The passenger escaped, but officers arrested the driver, Maurice Harrigan, 50, when they found him hiding in the backyard of a home in the 3100 block of Mace Avenue, police said.

Harrigan, a Perris resident, had been trying to use an acetylene torch to break into a truck to steal commercial plumbing equipment, according to the news release.

In addition to the torch, officers allegedly found other industrial-grade burglary tools in the Dodge.

Officials took Harrigan to Hoag Hospital to be treated for minor injuries before booking him at Orange County Jail in Santa Ana on suspicion of attempted vehicle burglary, possession of burglary tools and resisting arrest.

He's being held on $20,000 bail.

Costa Mesa police praised Hans-Walter Guenther, the officer who spotted the suspicious mini-van.

Guenther earned Costa Mesa's 2012 Recovery Officer of the Year award in May. He was responsible for recovering 18 stolen vehicles in Costa Mesa that year, according to the release.

"His self-initiated efforts resulted in five felony arrests as well as the financial recovery of $186,810 worth of stolen vehicles," the news release said.