The armoured personnel carrier parked in downtown Richmond, Virginia after a two-hour police chase. Screengrab: WTVR

Blackstone, Virginia - A soldier stole an armoured personnel carrier from a National Guard base in Virginia on Tuesday and took the vehicle on a two-hour drive that ended in a police chase through downtown Richmond, the state capital.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said Joshua Yabot, 29, took the military vehicle, which was not equipped with any weaponry, at about 7:50pm from the Fort Pickett Army National Guard base in Blackstone, and drove it east on Route 460 and then north into Richmond on Interstate 95 at about 65km/h.

In Richmond several police squads followed the armoured personnel carrier, which travels on tracks similar to a tank, through downtown as it headed toward the Capitol building, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Capitol police officers with combat-style rifles guarded the entrance to Capitol Square as a police helicopter shone a spotlight on the vehicle and police worked to stop traffic.

Parker Slaybaugh, the communications director for the Virginia Speaker of the House, said on Twitter: "This is INSANE! Someone has hijacked a 'Tank-like' vehicle from Fort Pickett and just drove it by our apartment!"

At about 9:40pm Yabot drove the armoured vehicle onto a median and was surrounded by police, ending the 95km pursuit, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Virginia State Police spokeswoman Keeli Hill said during a news conference police had taken Yabot to hospital to be treated for taser burns and a dog bite. He was later charged with driving under the influence of drugs, felony eluding and a felony count of unauthorized use of a vehicle

Geller said no crashes or injuries occurred during the incident. Charges are pending against the man, who was in state police custody, she said.