Tracking technology leads Palo Alto police to stolen car, suspect
Palo Alto police are crediting tracking technology with leading them to a stolen luxury vehicle and the alleged thief.
San Jose police called Palo Alto police around 5:45 p.m. Monday May 5/26, for help recovering a 2013 Audi S5 stolen on the 100 block of S. Market Street in San Jose. The car had been left unattended with the key in the ignition, said Lt. Zach Perron of the Palo Alto Police Department.
Fortunately, the car was equipped with a LoJack stolen vehicle recovery system. In addition, the victim's iPhone was in the glove box and loaded with the "Find My iPhone" app. San Jose police used the app to track the car to Town & Country Village in Palo Alto.
San Jose police also provided a physical description of the man suspected of stealing the car.
Palo Alto police went to the shopping center on El Camino Real and used the stolen vehicle recovery system to quickly locate the car, which was unoccupied, just before 6 p.m., Perron said.
Officers kept the car under observation until about 7 p.m. in the hopes that the suspect would return, but he did not, Perron said. But as officers began processing the car for evidence, a man matching the suspect's description was spotted walking into a CVS Pharmacy.
The man, identified as 44-year-old Tony Nathan Cota of Fresno, was taken into custody without incident, Perron said. Officers allegedly found the key to the Audi on him, as well as methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
According to Perron, Cota was booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail for two felonies -- vehicle theft and possession of narcotics -- and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
The undamaged Audi and iPhone were returned to the victim, identified only as a man in his 40s.
The case was cracked thanks to the "Find My iPhone" app and LoJack stolen vehicle recovery system, said Perron, who encouraged people to enable and use security features on their portable electronic devices, but leave it up to police to recover lost or stolen property.
"If your portable electronic device is stolen or lost and you are using a remote application to track its location, notify your local law enforcement agency immediately and do not take independent action to attempt to recover your property," Perron said in a press release.
Cota did not knowingly steal the iPhone, but the theft of portable electronic devices is a common crime, Perron said.