Despite his best efforts, a suspected mail thief in East County failed in an attempt to flee sheriff's deputies after a brief pursuit in Alpine on Wednesday morning (December 14).
Shortly after 7 a.m., deputies spotted an older model Chevrolet pickup that had been spray-painted black in the parking lot of Viejas Casino. The vehicle matched the description of the suspect in several Lakeside area mail thefts, so authorities attempted to contact the driver.
According to a report from Sgt. Chris Galve the driver, later identified as 34-year-old Steven Michael Johnson, "fled in his vehicle at a high rate of speed nearly hitting several parked cars. Johnson continued to drive through the parking structure until he nearly struck an oncoming vehicle head on causing him to stop. The vehicle Johnson nearly struck was an on duty Sheriff's Detective who was in the structure on an unrelated investigation."
Even after his truck stalled, Johnson refused to give up on his escape. He was still attempting to restart the vehicle when a deputy broke his passenger window with a baton to gain access.
Upon searching the truck, deputies found numerous items believed to be stolen, "including a woman's purse, various electronic items, clothing and an IRS check valued at over $59,000," along with several knives and a replica handgun.
Authorities say they've tied Johnson to a string of robberies in Lakeside, Rancho San Diego, and Alpine, along with a vehicle burglary in La Jolla. More victims are expected to emerge as their investigation continues.