The man suspected of stealing a Nissan Altima early Friday morning was arrested a few hours later after using the vehicle to assault a Las Cruces police officer and leading units on a high-speed pursuit on Interstate 10.
Steven Arechiga, 26, of the 16000 block of Furnace Street in the community of Organ, N.M., is charged with one third-degree felony count of aggravated assault upon a peace officer and fourth-degree felony counts of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer, burglary of a vehicle and two counts of unauthorized use of a bank card. He also faces a misdemeanor count of resisting, evading or obstructing an officer.
About 8 a.m. Friday, May 7, Las Cruces police learned that a 2013 Nissan Altima was stolen from a woman who had left keys inside the vehicle. Sometime after the theft, the woman learned that her bank card was used at a local Walmart.
At about 10 a.m., Las Cruces police officers located the stolen vehicle behind a home on the 3200 block of Oak Street. Arechiga and another man were near the vehicle. The other man complied with officers and was taken into custody for investigative purposes. Arechiga, however, jumped into the driver’s seat of the vehicle. As a Las Cruces police officer tried to remove Arechiga from the vehicle, Arechiga put the car into gear and drove off with the officer partially inside the vehicle.
The officer was able to break free from the vehicle and escaped serious injury.
Other LCPD officers located the fleeing vehicle on south Main Street. The vehicle entered eastbound I-10 and Arechiga led officers on a high-speed pursuit reaching speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. Arechiga exited I-10 at the Vado exit and crashed near mile marker 155. He then led officers on a brief foot pursuit before he was taken into custody.
Investigators learned Arechiga also burglarized another vehicle off El Dorado Court sometime overnight. The victim in that case reported identification and bank cards stolen. Investigators learned Arechiga committed that crime, as well, and used one of the bank cards to purchase three $100 gift cards at The Home Depot. The IDs and gift cards were located by police in the stolen vehicle.
Arechiga was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center where he is initially being held without bond.