Bank robber earns 4 years in prison after 4-city pursuit

SAN DIEGO -- A man who held up a Mira Mesa credit union office and then led police on a high-speed, four-city pursuitĀ  was sentenced to almost four years in state prison on Thursday.

Thomas Joseph Dufek, 29, pleaded guilty last month to robbery and reckless evading of police.

Authorities said Dufek robbed the Navy Federal Credit Union branch in the 10800 block of Black Mountain Road about 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 3 and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

When officers caught up with Dufek's white Toyota pickup truck a short time later, he refused to yield, instead fleeing to the north over city streets and onto northbound Interstate 15, San Diego police 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.