Deputies Catch SoCal Car Thief After Escape From State Prison In Fire Truck

SAN DIEGO (CBS) — An inmate who escaped from a state prison in San Diego County has been taken into custody, authorities said Tuesday.

Deputies took Thomas Francis Kelly, 51, into custody in Lemon Grove, according to San Diego Sheriff’s Lt. David Gilmore.

Details on the arrest were not immediately available.

Kelley, a convicted car thief, was initially behind bars for a parole violation at Donovan State Prison near the U.S.- Mexico border.

Kelley had worked on a team of prisoners trained as firefighters who could assist local fire departments during staff shortages.

After guards discovered he was missing Sunday night, deputies spotted a fire engine driving erratically about 10 miles from the prison.

The driver reportedly ran away when deputies stopped the truck, prison officials said.

Kelley was nabbed while waiting for a trolley in Lemon Grove, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said.

The escape — while not an isolated incident — had left local residents on edge.

“We live in the area and we [are] always worried to have dangerous people around here,” said one resident.

Kelly was considered a minimum security inmate.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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