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An Artesia man is in custody following an attempted early-morning vehicle theft Tuesday that ended after a pursuit with police.

Artesia Police Department Cpl. Greg Hall responded at approximately 5:45 a.m. Tuesday to a report of a suspicious person wearing a bandana around his face and looking into vehicles in the area of Third Street and Grand Avenue.

At 5:55 a.m., the APD received information that a similarly-dressed subject had just stolen a gray 2015 Ford F350 pickup from the Allsup’s at Park Avenue and First Street. The owner had briefly attempted to catch up to his truck in a friend’s vehicle, but neither he nor Hall could locate it.

The owner reported he had exited his vehicle to purchase items in Allsup’s and, without his knowledge, his wife also exited and entered the store, leaving the doors unlocked. A friend then rushed into the store and informed the owner his truck had been stolen. They attempted to pursue, concerned over a personal handgun the owner had stored in the center console of the vehicle.

As the owner was making his report to Hall, he looked up and began pointing at a truck travelling northbound on First Street and turning onto Park Avenue, which he identified as his.

The truck accelerated on Park Avenue, and Hall gave chase as the vehicle sped through stops signs in the area of Roselawn and Washington avenues, finally turning north on Seventh Street. As Hall continued to pursue, he noticed the truck had begun travelling in reverse at a high rate of speed toward his patrol unit.

Hall was able to avoid a collision, allowing the truck to pass, then turning around to pursue nose-to-nose. The suspect then stopped and pulled a bandana across his face.

Hall drew his gun, ordering the drive to exit the vehicle. The driver hesitated but eventually removed the bandana, exited the truck, and lay on the ground.

Hall was able to locate a driver’s license identifying the man as Arturo J. Galvan, 27, of Artesia.

Several items had fallen out of Galvan’s pockets, including three identification cards belonging to the owner of the vehicle, a pocket knife later identified as the owner’s, and a set of keys, also identified as the owner’s.

The owner informed Hall the front and rear plates of the vehicle – which was registered in Texas – were missing, along with a second set of keys. The owner was allowed to look inside the vehicle without touching anything and informed Hall a white knife observed on the center console was not his.

Hall collected the knife and determined it to be a switchblade. The vehicle was also processed for DNA evidence.

Galvan was read his Miranda rights and agreed to speak to Hall without an attorney present. He informed Hall he had taken the truck to Tate Branch Dodge, where he removed the plates. They were located there by police.

Galvan also reportedly told Hall he was a military operative on a top-secret mission and needed to commandeer the vehicle. Additional bizarre reasons for the theft prompted Hall to transport Galvan to Artesia General Hospital for medical clearance. He was then taken to the Artesia Detention Center, where the missing set of keys was located in the cuff of his pants.

Galvan was charged with unlawful taking of a motor vehicle (first offense), auto burglary, tampering with evidence, unlawful carrying of a switchblade knife, larceny (under $250), reckless driving, three counts of stop sign violation, and improper backing.