A suspected car thief was apprehended after abandoning a stolen luxury vehicle.
Deputies spotted 21-year-old Davion Jacquez Branford of Tavares driving a white Jaguar SUV eastbound on Sunnyside Road at around 10:25 p.m. Monday, according to an arrest report from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
The vehicle was reported stolen out of Sumter County on Thursday, the report said. The officer behind the SUV was familiar with the vehicle due to it fleeing Lake County deputies on Friday morning, as well as receiving a stolen vehicle alert that morning in Leesburg.
As the deputy followed Branford from behind, he turned north on Sleepy Hollow Road towards U.S. Hwy. 441 in Leesburg. He approached the entrance of Laurel Oaks Apartments, and an unknown male exited the vehicle from the passenger side. Branford continued traveling toward the highway, eventually fleeing down County Road 44, the report said.
However, the officer deployed a tracking device and monitored the vehicle via GPS, the report said. The officer tracked Branford as he continued down County Road 44, turned onto Radio Road and went east onto Treadway School Road.
As the vehicle approached County Road 473, Lake County Deputies were able to deploy stop sticks, striking both front tires. The vehicle turned south onto CR 473 and continued onto Ike Street, where it was found abandoned, the report said.
Officers arrived on scene and deployed a K-9 partner to track Branford from the front driver seat, the report said. The K9 led law enforcement onto Westmont Road and began tracking through several yards.
While tracking, an officer observed a woman walking down Ike Street. When officers contacted her, she advised that she had been in the stolen vehicle. She also provided a description of Branford, the report said.
As the officer spoke to the woman, Branford called her and told her to stay where she was at because he was going to come get her. He also told her he needed a ride and did not know where he was at, the report said.
Furthermore, police received a phone call from 10928 Luana Drive referencing a man asking for a ride to Tavares, the report said. This was about one street west of where the vehicle was abandoned. Deputies began to canvas this area and found Branford about three minutes later. He was then detained while still on the phone with the woman police had spoken to earlier.
While inventorying the stolen Jaguar, officers found a clear plastic baggie containing a green leafy substance in the rear passenger seat. A blue pouch containing an unknown hard rock- like substance was found in the center console, the report said.
A license check revealed that Branford has an invalid license for failure to appear in court, two counts of failure to pay traffic fines, a non-judgement suspension and a driver’s license cancellation all from June through September of last year, the report said.
A background check also revealed a prior conviction for driving while license suspended or revoked with knowledge from December 2022, the report said.
Branford was subsequently charged with grand theft (auto), DWLS (with knowledge) and possession of marijuana. He was transported to the Lake County Jail with bond set at $3,000.