Lake Wales, Florida – Residents in East Lake Wales were greeted to the sounds of sirens Thursday afternoon. Those sirens were Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies headed to a car chase on S.R. 60. According to the Lake Wales Police Department and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office a Lake Wales man was arrested for Grand Theft of Motor Vehicle, Fleeing To Elude, multiple counts of Contributing To Delinquency of A Minor, Child Abuse (endangerment), unarmed burglary and other charges.
According to the PCSO a red Hyundai Elantra was stolen on 11/7/2020. It was a rental car being used by a survey crew and it has North Carolina plates. Through the coarse of the next several days the car and a black male driving the car would be linked to multiple robberies in Lake Wales and Winter Haven.
On 11/12/20 a home owner in the area of Capps Rd. Found a man stealing a UPS package from his back door. The suspect now identified as Ernest McKnight III got into a red Hyundai Elantra and proceeded to leave the scene. The home owner followed the suspect. A Lake Wales K9 officer was heading to the scene to assist deputies when he saw the stolen vehicle. The officer attempted a traffic stop and the vehicle fled.
The LWPD Officer and PCSO deputies gave pursuit. The suspect drove East on S.R. 60 before pulling off onto Tiger Creek Rd. The suspect then turned down Lake Rosalie Rd. and eventually Tupelo Ln. According to reports the suspect then fled the vehicle along with a minor child and broke into an unoccupied home on Tupelo Ln.
The LWPD Officer and PCSO Deputies were able to talk the suspect out of the home without further incident. The suspect was not armed.
McKnight has a long history of criminal arrests. He was transported to Polk County Jail.