A wanted Florence Township man allegedly stole a car Thursday, wrested free from deputies and managed to escape on foot through a wooded area, deputies said.
Joseph Rivera, 32, of the 10800 block of Ohio 113 E., now has outstanding warrants for theft of a motor vehicle, obstructing official business, resisting arrest, criminal trespassing and operating a vehicle without a license.
An Erie County deputy spotted a driver shield his face as he passed by the deputy's cruiser on Ohio 113 Thursday around 11 a.m., according to a deputy's report.
The driver then made an abrupt turn into a nearby bakery parking lot, then hopped out of the vehicle and hurried toward the closed business.
The deputy soon made contact with the man later identified as Rivera, who said he was at the location in search of a man named “John,” the report said.
But when the property owner confirmed no one by that name resided there, Rivera pleaded with deputy to let him return the vehicle to “his girl's house,” at an address Rivera did not know, the report said.
The deputy then went to detain Rivera, after he apparently provided false personal information. Rivera broke free however, and ran west, disappearing behind a barn, the report said.
Deputies enlisted Berlin Heights police, Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers and even a State Patrol plane to search for the man around the Ohio Turnpike, in a wooded area and inside various buildings.
Despite their efforts, the search team did not locate Rivera.
Deputies later spoke to the aunt of Rivera's girlfriend, who said he'd been living at her address, but never had her permission to use the vehicle. The aunt also suspected Rivera had stolen from her in the past, the report said.
Officials learned Rivera has several outstanding warrants through North Ridgeville, Lorain and Rocky River police, as well as the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.