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October 13, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Suspected car thief arrested after lengthy chase, Lake Union dip

Maybe if he had managed to find a bicycle, this would-be triathlete might have eluded Seattle police.

Alas, the suspected car thief’s escape was short-lived early Monday morning despite running an impromptu obstacle course and taking a dip in the frigid water of Lake Union, according to police.

It started around 2 a.m. when a security guard working in the 1200 block of Valley Street alerted police to a suspicious man in a parking lot removing parts from a Ford pickup and placing them in a Toyota SUV, police wrote in an account of the incident.

When officers arrived they saw the truck and the SUV — both had been reported stolen — and smelled gasoline. Police also spotted a large gas can on the ground along with a man underneath the pickup. After he saw the officers, the man ran off, police said.

In short order, the man led police on a chase into another parking lot, over a fence, onto a loading dock behind a building, under some bushes and into the the parking lot of a marina near Fairview Avenue and Aloha Street.

Ultimately, police spotted the man swimming out in Lake Union.

The man swam under a yacht and tried to hide in an air pocket near the boat’s propeller, according to police. At one point, officers threw the man a floatation vest and urged him to come to shore. The man said he would “rather drown than go to jail,” police said.

Rather than entertain the man’s offer, police convinced him to surrender. The cold water likely helped in his decision.

The wet and exhausted man climbed into a boat, where police took him into custody.

The 31-year-old was taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment before he was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of auto theft.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: car theft, police pursuit, Seattle Police Department

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