VALPARAISO — The Porter County Sheriff's Department released the identity of a man accused of stealing a police vehicle during a traffic stop, leaving his infant son and later jumping out of a second story window to steal a second police vehicle — all in the same afternoon Wednesday. 

Stacey Groves, 39, of Benton Harbor, Michigan, faces charges of residential entry, auto theft, two charges of resisting arrest with a vehicle, child endangerment and two counts each of criminal mischief and leaving the scene of a property damage crash, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Department. 

Groves also has an active warrant through Michigan and potential charges through the Hobart Police Department, the release stated. 

Groves allegedly stole an unmarked Hobart police car during a traffic stop around noon Wednesday along the Indiana Toll Road before leading a state trooper on a car chase westbound on the Toll Road.

The trooper lost sight of the vehicle, according to the release, but police believe Groves "made his own exit" off the Toll Road and through a cattle fence between County Road 1000 North and the Toll Road on the north side. 

He then drove the squad car through a field, back onto County Road 1000 North and ditched the car, according to police. Groves forced his way into a nearby home, handed the homeowner his 7-month-old infant and asked for help, police said. At some point, two Porter County officers responded to the home after a 911 call was made.

As two officers entered the home, Groves reportedly jumped out of a second-story window and subsequently drove off in a marked Porter County squad car, leaving behind his infant son, police said. 

He then drove the stolen squad car through the woods adjacent to the residence, where he then fled on foot. A Lake County helicopter located Groves on foot in the area of Greening Road and County Road 1050 North in a field. Once the helicopter landed, a co-pilot took him into custody without incident.

The infant was later released to his mother, police said. 

During the incident, Jackson Elementary and Liberty Elementary schools were placed on lockout until Groves was taken into custody, according to the news release. The police departments of Hobart, Porter County, Lake County, along with Porter County Central Communications, and Joe’s Towing, assisted. 

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Porter/LaPorte county reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

Public safety reporter

Lauren covers breaking news, crime and courts for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet covering government, public policy, and the region’s heroin epidemic. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.