Man in custody after leading San Diego police on chase in Clairemont area

SAN DIEGO - A man was taken into custody early Thursday morning following a police pursuit that began in University City and ended in Clairemont.

At about 4:50 a.m., a clerk at the United Oil gas station on Governor Drive near Genesee Avenue called San Diego police about a man who tried to smash a store window with a sledgehammer.

"I was stocking the fridges and that's when I heard some noise, like a bang noise, and that's when I saw him," said store clerk Sergio Salazar.

Salazar said the man appeared to be after cigarettes.

"He got a hammer and he tried to break the window and he actually did break through and he heard the sirens and he left in his car," said Salazar.

Police briefly chased the suspect, later identified as Vongdara Vongvichitch, through surface streets before he crashed the Honda Civic he was driving into a fence on Limerick Avenue off Clairemont Mesa Boulevard in Clairemont.

Police said he tried to escape into a canyon on foot but was quickly captured.

According to police, the Honda that Vongvichitch was driving was stolen. Officers also found several cartons of cigarettes inside the car, but it's unclear if they were stolen from the gas station.
 
Meanwhile, the car's owner, Javier Rios, told 10News he got an early morning wakeup call from police.

Rios said police informed him, "'Hey, we found your car, right here in Clairemont. Yeah, it's been involved in a crime so we can't really release it to you,'"

Rios arrived at the crash scene to find his 1993 Civic all banged up.

"I was in shock, I didn't know what to think, so, I didn't expect this, that's for sure," said Rios.

He said his car was parked outside the National City store where he works when it was stolen.

"I was like, wait, I parked next to that car, where's my car? And then I was like, whoa, again, third time," said Rios.

Rios said his car has been stolen three times in just the last three months.

"Apparently, people go for Hondas; the word is, they're easy to steal," said Rios.

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