Authorities: Police dog chases down man trying to steal catalytic converters from car lot

  • Oscar Ponce

    Oscar Ponce

Updated 3/15/2022 7:21 PM

A Lake County sheriff's police dog helped deputies apprehend a man who investigators believe was part of a group trying to steal catalytic converters early Tuesday from a Beach Park used car dealership, officials said.

Oscar Ponce, 23, of the 0-100 block of West Tall Oak Drive in Hainesville, is charged with possession of burglary tools, criminal damage to property and resisting arrest. Ponce was released from jail Tuesday after a judge assigned him a $35,000 personal recognizance bond.


Recognizance bonds allow those charged with a crime to leave custody without having to put up cash.

Lake County sheriff's Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said deputies arrived at a used car dealership on the 36500 block of North Green Bay Road around 12:15 a.m. after receiving a report of a suspicious person.

They spotted a man under a vehicle and instructed him to come out, but the man, later revealed to be Ponce, tried to run away, Covelli said.

Deputies let police dog Duke off the leash to chase Ponce. Duke bit Ponce on the hand and subdued him until deputies took him into custody, Covelli said.

Paramedics treated Ponce at the scene for the bite on his hand before he was taken to the county jail, Covelli said.

Covelli said based on the equipment at the scene, including multiple car jacks and a saw, investigators believe Ponce and several other people were trying to steal catalytic converters from vehicles in the used car lot. Investigators believe the other people fled while deputies chased Ponce, Covelli said.

Covelli said detectives are working to determine who else was involved.

Ponce is scheduled to appear in court on April 12.

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