updated 5/29/2006 7:47:54 AM ET 2006-05-29T11:47:54

A man wanted in the theft of 686 sticks of dynamite from a gold mine has been arrested after a short car chase in a stolen car, officials said.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Joshua Lee Gawn, 33, for investigation of auto theft Friday night, Deputy Chris Durham said. Gawn didn’t give his name and authorities didn’t realize he was wanted in the dynamite case until fingerprint information came back Saturday night, Durham said.

Investigators earlier this month had focused on Gawn based on information from witnesses and tipsters. After his apartment was searched, he was arrested for investigation of a probation violation but was released the next day on $25,000 bail.

While in custody, Gawn admitted he stole explosives, according to an affidavit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ATF obtained an arrest warrant for Gawn on May 18 after he did not turn himself in for arraignment in federal court.

The warrant accuses him of being a felon in possession of explosives.

Most of the dynamite has been recovered from an impounded vehicle and in front of two fire stations. Thirty-nine sticks remain missing, officials said.

Gawn told authorities two weeks ago that the missing sticks were destroyed by water from a car wash, according to the ATF affidavit. The bureau is still trying to account for the missing sticks, said John D’Angelo, an ATF special agent.

Authorities did not offer a motive for the theft, which was reported May 3.

“I think he got himself into something he couldn’t get out of,” said Gawn’s wife, Amy.

“I’m glad he’s in jail. That makes me feel a little better,” said Greg Paul, owner of the Gold Mountain Mine Co., the Big Bear mine from which the explosives were stolen.

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