Robbery suspect leads police on chase in North County

SAN DIEGO -- A man who allegedly robbed a Mira Mesa credit union office Wednesday led police and sheriff's personnel on a high-speed, four-city pursuit that ended with his arrest in a coastal North County neighborhood.

The holdup at the Navy Federal Credit Union branch in the 10800 block of Black Mountain Road took place shortly before 9:30 a.m., according to San Diego police. The thief fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

When officers caught up with the suspect's white Toyota pickup truck a short time later, the driver -- later identified as 29-year-old Thomas Joseph Dufek -- refused to yield, instead fleeing to the north over city streets and onto northbound Interstate 15, Lt. Eric Hays said.

The suspect sped through northern San Diego and Escondido, then headed west on state Route 78 and crossed into San Marcos, where sheriff's personnel began tailing him.

The pursuit, which reached speeds in excess of 100 mph, came to an end after Dufek entered Carlsbad and ran over a tire-flattening spike strip laid in his path by officers. He pulled to a stop on Palomar Airport Road, bailed out of his crippled truck and ran off to the south, climbing over fences and traipsing through residential yards.

Deputies finally caught up with the suspect in the area of Rancho Del Canon and Rancho La Presa streets, near Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park, and took him into custody without further incident, sheriff's Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said.

Dufek was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of bank robbery and evading police. He was being held on $50,000 bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Friday afternoon.