Chris Coppola and her brother, Arthur, were driving in Bethesda recently when their car was nearly struck by an auto as it sped across the lawn of a home in the 9200 block of Seven Locks Road.

"There was a guy in a red jogging suit lying in the trunk trying to keep the lid down," Coppola said yesterday. "It was just incredible . . . we thought the house had been robbed."

Indeed, two men had allegedly been burglarizing the home when they were surprised by residents. The alleged burglar apparently barely had time to hop in the trunk before his associate drove off.

Coppola and her brother then chased the car at high speeds up River Road onto the beltway before they got close enough to get the car's license number, she said. As they followed, Coppola said the car stopped briefly and the man in the trunk raced into thick woods near Cindy Lane.

Returning to the home "we found a kid standing there with a handgun," she said. "The mother and five kids had been gone only a hour and came back to find the home ransacked."

Tipped to the incident, Montgomery County police arrested a man jogging along River Road minutes later. He claimed he was out exercising. The man, Lee William Dickey, 23, of 11501 Gunston Road in Fairfax County, was charged with three burglaries.

Police spokesman Cpl. Phil Caswell said that the license number supplied by Coppola led investigators to an Alexandria home. Police found the car and seized items that they identified as stolen property. The driver of the car has not been apprehended, Caswell said.