Girlfriend of man who allegedly stole Dayton police car now facing charges

A Dayton man who allegedly stole and ditched a police cruiser on May 31 is still on the run, although authorities have now arrested a person they say has been aiding and abetting 54-year-old Clifford Oclair. On Monday, deputies with the Pct. 4 Constable’s Office arrested Tavasha Marie Banning, 41, of Dayton, on a third-degree felony charge of Hindering the Apprehension or Prosecution of a Known Felon.

Banning, who authorities say is Oclair’s girlfriend, is accused of helping Oclair evade police by letting him hide out at her house.

“We went by looking for Clifford because he had been seen there. When I spoke to her, she said he had come in, grabbed some stuff and left, and she was warned that if he made contact with her again and she didn’t call us, she could be charged,” said Pct. 4 Deputy Constable Robert Adams.

Before long, authorities received another tip that Oclair had returned to Banning’s house. By the time they arrived, Oclair had absconded.

“Ms. Banning came out and said she wasn’t going to help us, so she was charged,” Adams said.

Banning was booked in the Liberty County Jail and bond was set at $30,000.

According to Pct. 4 Constable Robby Thornton, his deputies are checking every lead they get on Oclair’s whereabouts. They have also checked every location Oclair is known to frequent.

Oclair is wanted on charges of Theft and Possession of a Controlled Substance stemming from an arrest made in early May by the constable’s office.

“We had arrested him in Kenefick at one of the stores for Possession of a Controlled Substance. When we searched his truck, we found five guns, a night scope and ammo that had been stolen from a farmer in the Dayton area two weeks prior to that. We found out about the stolen guns when we ran the numbers and one came back as stolen,” said Thornton.

Oclair was taken into custody and transported to the County Annex in Dayton. Thornton said one deputy stayed outside with Oclair while another deputy went inside to process the paperwork associated with his arrest.

“The guy told my deputy he was thirsty, so my deputy got a bottle of water and gave him a drink,” Thornton said. “My deputy left the door open and walked around the car. He came back around and the guy was gone.”

Oclair was spotted two weeks later on May 31 driving through Dayton. Law enforcement personnel from Dayton PD, assisting the constable’s office, tried to take Oclair into custody, but he allegedly bailed out of his own vehicle and fled into a wooded area off SH 321. When police gave chase on foot, he reportedly circled back to one police cruiser and took it. He was pursued into a heavily wooded area at the end of N. Winfree where the police cruiser was wrecked in a ditch. Oclair fled the scene on foot, prompting a canine search of the area, but he could not be found.

Anyone with information about Oclair’s whereabouts is asked to call the Pct. 4 Constable’s Office at 936-258-4711, Dayton Police Department at 936-258-7621, Liberty County Sheriff’s Office at 936-336-4500, or dial 911.

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