SEBRING - A suspected car thief who was pursued by more than a dozen law enforcement vehicles Tuesday faces numerous charges in Polk and Highlands counties, authorities said Wednesday.
Zachary Aldridge, 28, 724 Sun N Lakes Blvd., Lake Placid, was arrested by the Highlands County Sheriff's Office after he abandoned a stolen vehicle and went into a house at 325 Swift Ave., authorities said.
Aldridge was charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling and two counts of fleeing.
In Polk County, he was charged with grand theft of an automobile, two counts of fleeing and violation of probation. He was on probation for grand theft of an automobile.
The events began when a man reported that he stopped at a business in Winter Haven and left his car unlocked with the engine running, a press release from the Polk County Sheriff's Office said. While he was in the business, someone stole his vehicle, the press release said.
Less than a half hour later, deputies spotted the vehicle on U.S. 60 in Polk County and were unable to stop it, the press release said.
When the suspect fled into Highlands County, Polk County deputies followed with the assistance of a helicopter and Highlands County deputies who eventually took the lead, the press release said.
That continued, authorities said, until the suspect stopped and ran into the home.
The homeowner told deputies that she heard all the sirens, went outside and was unaware that Aldridge had gone into her residence, the report said.
She told authorities that she knew Aldridge because he is a friend of one of her friends.