A man suspected of stealing a big rig led US police on a three hour chase across Riverside County, California.

According to the Los Angeles Times the pursuit began just before 11am local time (6am NZ time) when the driver refused to pull over and sped onto the 60 freeway, travelling east through the Badlands.

The driver spoke to County Highway Patrol on the phone saying he "didn't want to go back to jail".

The truck, possibly carrying hazardous material, belonged to a company called ACT Enviro.

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The man ended up pulling over at a truck stop in Whitewater around 1.30pm local time (8.30am NZ time) and surrendered without incident.