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Man Steals Unit Off Of Truck During Recovery

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a man they say stole a Ford pickup right off a tow truck during a repossession attempt and then led deputies on a dangerous chase just south of Santa Fe.

The sheriff’s office posted a notice on its Facebook page Wednesday about the Oct. 31 encounter with Michael “Buff” Chavez.

According to a report, a tow truck driver told deputies he had just finished hooking up the white Ford F-150 to the back of his truck outside a residence in a complex near the Rail Runner train station on N.M. 599. Chavez came out of a home nearby, the driver said, and drove the pickup in reverse right off the tow truck lift. He continued driving the pickup backward into a backyard and then drove it across an open field, the report says.

Deputies responding to the tow truck driver’s call found Chavez in the pickup in the nearby field.

Chavez then led them on a chase down dirt roads, according to the report, ignoring their commands to stop. He eventually headed north on N.M. 14 toward Santa Fe, “passing other vehicles on the shoulder” and driving between 65 and 90 mph.

Deputies called off the chase because of public safety concerns, the report says, and issued a “be on the lookout” alert to other agencies.

A “wanted” poster shows Chavez shirtless, with full-sleeved tattoos, and says Chavez is considered dangerous.

Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Juan Ríos said deputies are concerned about Chavez’s criminal history. Online court records show Chavez has faced a litany of charges alleging drug possession and driving under the influence.

Chavez also pleaded guilty to a count of battery on a peace officer in 2002 and a charge of resisting an officer in 2009.

In the Oct. 31 incident, he is charged with unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer and driving with his license revoked.

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