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ENCINITAS, Calif. – Three men were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of leading police on a chase and possessing stolen catalytic converters, said the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

It all began Wednesday in Encinitas shortly before 4:30 a.m. when a deputy noticed a red Dodge Charger that was suspected to have been linked to some recent catalytic converter thefts in the region, according to Lt. Christopher Lawrence from the sheriff’s department.

The deputy then attempted to pull over the driver near Encinitas Boulevard and Seeman Drive. The driver, later identified as 41-year-old Erik Rivera, disobeyed the traffic stop and a chase began, Lawrence stated.

Deputies said during the chase, Rivera ran over several mailboxes on Seeman Drive and continued onto northbound Interstate 5. The chase then went into the San Clemente city limits, where the California Highway Patrol took over the pursuit.

CHP officers chased the vehicle into Orange County, where authorities successfully deployed a tire deflation device. The vehicle then stopped near Highway 73 and the La Paz Road off-ramp said the sheriff’s department.

Rivera and his front passenger then allegedly ran away from the vehicle, according to the sheriff’s department. The back seat passengers, identified as 41-year-old Rufino Garcia and 45-year-old Francisco Perez, did not attempt to flee.

Garcia and Perez were detained immediately after the deployment of the tire deflation device, while Rivera was located and arrested after authorities searched the area.

The sheriff’s department claims that two catalytic converters and tools were found inside the Dodge Charger.

All three arrested men were said to be residents of Los Angeles County, and were booked into the Vista Detention Facility on numerous charges, including felony evading, possession of stolen property and possession of burglary tools. 

Authorities did not immediately clarify if Rivera’s front passenger was ever located or identified.

Detectives from the North Coastal Sheriff’s Station are handling the investigation. If you have any information regarding the incident or this investigation, call the sheriff’s department at (858) 565-5200.