Man arrested in car theft, deputy pursuit

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Putnam County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Townsend Harris

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. - A 21-year-old Putnam County man was arrested after deputies said he stole a woman's car early Sunday morning, then later led them on a chase.

Deputies were called to the 1900 block of Roselle Avenue just before 1 a.m.

They said Meghan Passenger had parked her 1999 Toyota Corolla outside of her home and went inside. They said she left the vehicle unlocked and the keys inside the car as she was only going to be home for a brief moment.

Deputies said Townsend Harris made off with her vehicle while Passenger was inside her home.

At about 5 a.m., deputies on State Road 20 saw a car make a U-turn a short distance in front of them. They were able to obtain the license plate information and confirmed it was the same vehicle that had been reported stolen earlier in the evening.

Deputies said they tried to conduct a traffic stop on the car, but Harris refused to stop. Deputies said they pursued the car into Palatka and deployed stop sticks in the area of Roddy Road and Alabama Avenue, but Harris was able to maneuver around them.

Deputies said Harris lost control of the vehicle and ran into a chain-link fence, but he was able to regain control and continued to elude law enforcement.

The pursuit continued on South Palm Avenue and Sliver Lake Drive until the car crashed into several trees. Once the vehicle came to a complete stop, Harris ran but was apprehended a short distance away without further incident.

Harris was arrested and charged with two counts of hit-and-run, aggravated fleeing and eluding law enforcement, vehicle theft, larceny, and resisting law enforcement without violence. He was being held in the Putnam County jail with bail set at $4,524.

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