San Diego Sheriff’s Department. Photo by Chris Stone

Deputies arrested a suspected car thief Friday after a high-speed chase and foot pursuit – with some added help from local residents in Julian.

Authorities suspected Ernest Bartocci, 45, of stealing a Silver Honda Pilot near the intersection of Palm Canyon Drive and Christmas Circle in the Borrego Springs area of rural San Diego County.

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife Officer spotted the Pilot and conducted a traffic stop near the area of Banner Grade and Wynola Road in Julian.

The officer identified Bartocci as the driver, but the suspect fled the scene in the stolen vehicle at a high rate of speed. Shortly after, a Sheriff’s Rural Deputy saw Bartocci in the stolen vehicle near Wynola and Highway 78 and attempted to stop him.

Bartocci fled again, and deputies said he drove the Pilot fast enough through narrow and winding rural roads that they ended their pursuit to avoid putting other motorists’ lives at risk.

The next time Bartocci was spotted, it was by residents near Pine Hills Road and Highway 78. As the suspect attempted to hide the stolen vehicle behind buildings, they reported the suspicious activity.

A deputy then located the vehicle and found Bartocci walking among houses in the area. They said he ran from deputies but they ultimately took him into custody without incident.

– Staff reports

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