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Police halt grand theft auto suspect after pursuit

TAMPA — Police said a Riverview man released from prison about a month ago stole a vehicle Thursday night and fled authorities until officers flattened his tires with spike strips.

It started about 6 p.m. Thursday, when someone stole a 2000 Mazda Protege from Kelley Auto Sales at 3401 E Seventh Ave. About four hours later, an officer saw the vehicle near E Columbus Drive and N 10th Street. Several officers responded.

The officer tried to pull over the vehicle, police said, but the motorist kept driving, leading police on a chase over the Crosstown Expressway to Gandy Boulevard and then back up the Crosstown to downtown.

As the driver approached downtown, an officer deployed spike strips and sliced three of his tires, causing the suspect to spin out and come to a stop, police said.

Police arrested Joseph Free, 41, of 9704 Lou Ann Ave., on charges of grand theft auto, auto burglary, aggravated fleeing to elude, driving without a valid license, cocaine possession, drug paraphernalia possession, resisting an officer without violence, and probation violation.

Free was released from prison 30 days ago following a robbery arrest. He was in the Hillsborough County jail Friday without bond.

No one was injured, police said.

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Police halt grand theft auto suspect after pursuit 03/26/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 26, 2010 8:02am]

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