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Man steals LAPD vehicle in Hollywood, leads police on freeway chase

A man who may have been under the influence of drugs stole a Los Angeles Police Department vehicle early Friday morning and led officers on a chase from Hollywood to Woodland Hills, authorities said.

Officers had exited their vehicle to chase a vandalism suspect on foot near Hollywood Boulevard and Ivar Avenue around 1:45 a.m. when 28-year-old Ethan Rutland commandeered the police SUV, said Det. Meghan Aguilar, an LAPD spokeswoman.

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Police quickly located the vehicle, and officers with the LAPD and the California Highway Patrol began chasing Rutland along the northbound 101 Freeway, Aguilar said. The stolen cruiser was disabled by a spike strip, forcing Rutland to pull over and surrender near the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and De Soto Avenue around 2:15 a.m., she said.

Aguilar said investigators believe Rutland was under the influence of narcotics at the time of the theft.

Rutland was jailed on suspicion of unlawful taking of an emergency vehicle, and is being held in lieu of $55,000, Aguilar said. Online jail and court records show Rutland has been arrested several times by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, and pleaded no contest to vandalism and destruction of public property in recent years.

There were several police firearms in the vehicle but Rutland did not try to access them, Aguilar said. No one was injured during the incident.

The incident marked the second time this week that someone has stolen a city emergency vehicle. On Monday, a woman jumped into an unattended ambulance at the downtown California Hospital Medical Center and led police on a 45-minute chase before surrendering in Chino Hills.

Last summer, Los Angeles police also found themselves chasing their own vehicles after members of the department's cadet program stole several police cars. A wild pursuit with the cadets ended in a pair of car crashes in South L.A.

Twitter: @JamesQueallyLAT

UPDATES:

12:05 p.m.: This post was updated with the suspect's identity and criminal history.

This post was first published at 7:50 a.m.

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