El Centro police car stolen

suspected thief caught, another sought

July 11, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

An El Centro man was arrested early this morning on suspicion of stealing an unmarked El Centro police car from in front of a home in the 1200 block of Ocotillo Drive.

An Ocotillo Drive resident reported hearing thumping noises before seeing the car being driven east on Ocotillo at 1:28 a.m., said El Centro police Lt. Paul Longoria.

The noises turned out to be the suspects smashing the car's passenger-side window, Longoria said.

The resident called police and Officer Jose Guerrero, who was patrolling in the area when the call came in, spotted the vehicle. Guerrero engaged in a short vehicle pursuit that ended in the 1900 block of South Willow Drive, Longoria said.

Guerrero chased two male suspects on foot when they ran from the stolen car, scuffling with the driver as he climbed over a fence.


El Centro police patrol personnel set up a perimeter in the area and eventually found the driver hiding in a shed-like structure in the back yard of a residence, Longoria said.

Juan Lopez Perez, 22, was arrested on suspicion of stealing the car. The passenger was not located.

Bail information and custody status on Perez was unavailable at presstime.

Longoria said the suspects did not know the car they had stolen was a police unit.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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