Atwater Police have been dealing with a string of vehicle thefts. A black Honda Civic was stolen in the 1900 block of Atwater Boulevard at around 7:30 a.m., Officer Ken Lee found the stolen black Honda parked behind an apartment complex in the 2200 of Olive.
Officer Lee saw a male, later identified as 25-year-old Jose Maldonado of Atwater, walking in the area.
At around 12:00 p.m, a blue Honda was reported stolen from Wal-Mart. A video of theft showed a person resembling Maldonado stealing the car from the parking lot. About 3 hours later, Lee spotted the stolen blue Honda in the 2000 block of Olive Avenue.
Lee again saw Maldonado on foot in the area, and since he resembled the suspect on the video, Lee detained him. A search of Maldonado located a “shaved” key, commonly used for stealing cars.
Maldonado was already a person of interest in other vehicle thefts. A cell phone left behind in one of the stolen vehicles linked Maldonado to the crime. We are working to determine if Maldonado is linked to any other vehicles thefts in the Atwater/Winton area.
Officer Lee is a prior recipient of the CHP 10851 Master Award and is responsible for the recovery of 24 stolen vehicles in Atwater this year alone.
Maldonado was booked at Merced County Jail for auto theft.