Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


By Miriam Raftery

December 15, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – A man suspected of stealing mail in Lakeside led Sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase in Alpine this morning and was caught with a pickup truck full of other stolen items ranging from weapons to electronics. He is suspected of thefts in neighborhoods across our region.

The dramatic events began at 7:14 a.m., when deputies from Alpine spotted an older Chevrolet truck spray-painted matte black parked in the Viejas Casino parking structure. The truck matched the description of a vehicle involved in mail theft in Lakeside on December 9tth. 

When deputies tried to contact the driver, later identified as Steven Michael Johnson, 34, he fled in his vehicle at a high speed, nearly hitting several parked cars, according to Sergeant Chris Galve.

“Johnson continued to drive through the parking structure until he nearly struck an oncoming vehicle head- on causing him to stop,” added Galve. The vehicle Johnson nearly struck belonged to a Sheriff's detective who was in the structure on an unrelated investigation. The suspect’s vehicle stalled but he refused to exit even after multiple commands. While he was attempting to start the ignition, a deputy on scene was able to break the passenger side window of the vehicle with his baton to attempt to detain Johnson, who complied with commands and exited his vehicle. He was detained without further incident.

During a search of the vehicle and on Johnson's person, deputies located items believed to be stolen including a woman's purse, various electronic items, clothing and an IRS check valued at over $59,000. Johnson was also in possession of several knives and a replica firearm.

It was ultimately determined that Johnson had been involved in thefts in the Rancho San Diego, Alpine and Lakeside neighborhoods as well as a vehicle burglary in La Jolla, Sgt. Galve says.

Johnson was arrested for two counts of identity theft, one count of possession of stolen property and one count of resisting arrest. Several theft victims have been located and additional victims are expected to be located pending further investigative follow-up.

Call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477 with information and you will remain anonymous. You may be eligible for up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to a felony arrest.

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.