Palo Alto police credit electronic tracking systems for leading to the arrest of an alleged car thief at Town & Country Village Monday.
Tony Nathan Cota, 44, of Fresno, was arrested inside CVS pharmacy and booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for felony vehicle theft, felony possession of narcotics and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Late Monday afternoon in San Jose, Cota allegedly stole a vehicle that had been parked and temporarily unoccupied with the key left in the ignition, police said. The car contained not only a LoJack vehicle tracking system but also the car owner's iPhone, with GPS tracking software app "Find My iPhone." San Jose police used the app to track the stolen car, a black 2013 Audi S-5 coupe, and alerted Palo Alto police just before 6 p.m. that they tracked it to the Town & Country Village parking lot at 855 El Camino Real.
Palo Alto police officers kept the Audi under observation until 7 p.m. in hopes the suspect would return, but he did not. As officers began to process the car for evidence, one of them observed a man matching the suspect's description walking into CVS, and Cota was arrested inside without incident. Officers also found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia on his person, police said.
Police released the vehicle, with the iPhone still safely in the glove compartment, to the owner, a man in his forties. The vehicle was not damaged, police said.
Police credit the "Find My iPhone" app and the LoJack stolen vehicle recovery system for leading to the arrest.
"We encourage people to enable security features in their portable electronic devices whenever possible, and to familiarize themselves with how to use them," Palo Alto police said in a statement. "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 and do not take independent action to attempt to recover your property."
For more information about mobile electronic device theft and steps people can take to safeguard property, police suggest watching "The Epidemic of iCrime," a five-minute video produced by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office in 2013.