At­wa­ter po­lice: Cell­phone, shaved key links sus­pect to auto thefts

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - Local - BY AN­DREW KUHN [email protected]­ced­sun-star.com

At­wa­ter po­lice say a sus­pect has been ar­rested af­ter two ve­hi­cles were re­ported stolen Wed­nes­day.

Author­i­ties ar­rested 25-year-old Jose Mal­don­ado of At­wa­ter af­ter an of­fi­cer ob­served him in the area of two stolen ve­hi­cles.

Po­lice say a black Honda Civic was re­ported stolen from the 1900 block of At­wa­ter Boule­vard around 7:30 a.m. Wed­nes­day.

Of­fi­cer Ken Lee lo­cated the stolen Honda be­hind an apart­ment com­plex in the 2200 block of Olive Av­enue and ob­served a man later iden­ti­fied as Mal­don­ado walk­ing in the area of the stolen ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease.

Author­i­ties say a blue Honda was also re­ported stolen from Wal­mart around 12 p.m. Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

The theft was caught on video and po­lice say a per­son re­sem­bling Mal­don­ado was ob­served steal­ing the car from the store’s park­ing lot.

Later that day, Lee ob­served Mal­don­ado on foot in the area of the stolen blue Honda in the 2000 block of Olive Av­enue, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease. Po­lice say Mal­don­ado was de­tained based on his re­sem­blance to the sus­pect in the video of the car theft.

Mal­don­ado was found to be in pos­ses­sion of a shaved key, which po­lice say is com­monly used to steal cars. Author­i­ties say a cell­phone left be­hind in one of the stolen ve­hi­cles also linked Mal­don­ado to the crime.

Mal­don­ado was booked into the Merced County Jail on sus­pi­cion of auto theft and author­i­ties are work­ing to de­ter­mine if he’s con­nected to any other ve­hi­cle thefts in the At­wa­ter/Win­ton area, ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease.

Po­lice say Of­fi­cer Lee is a prior re­cip­i­ent of the Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol 10851 Mas­ter Award and has been re­spon­si­ble for the re­cov­ery of 24 stolen ve­hi­cles this year.

Jose Mal­don­ado

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