FLORENCE — A 33-year-old man was sentenced Monday to more than 11 years in prison for trying to steal a car owned by the Casa Grande Police Department.

A jury found Nathan Lyme guilty earlier this year of vehicle theft after CGPD caught him driving one of the agency’s “bait” cars in February 2017.

Police departments often utilize unmarked vehicles as a way to trap potential car thieves.

According to court documents, trackers inside the CGPD car started going off on the night of Feb. 5, 2017. An officer chased after the car as the driver attempted to exit the city limits.

The officer reported another vehicle attempted to block his path by swerving across the road. Police eventually caught up with the bait car and conducted a traffic stop.

Lyme allegedly told the officer he honestly thought the city-owned vehicle was his own. The second car that was blocking the officer also stopped and two women exited, shouting at the officer.

One of the women, Portia Duarte, was arrested and charged as being an accomplice, based on the suspicion she dropped Lyme off at the bait car. She later pleaded guilty to possessing drug paraphernalia and was given a year of probation.

Pinal County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Wharton sentenced Lyme to 11.25 years with the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Lyme, who has multiple prior felonies, apologized to the court for his actions and asked for forgiveness.

After he finishes serving that sentence, Lyme will have to serve another six years for a separate DUI offense. He was caught driving with methamphetamine in his system in December 2016.

The defendant claims he’s been completing classes for drug and alcohol treatment while he’s been in custody.

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