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Probationer Using Shaved Keys to Steal Hondas in Santa Cruz County

A 35-year-old man on probation for vehicle theft was arrested in Watsonville last week after police found him with numerous shaved car keys used to steal Honda model cars throughout Santa Cruz County, a police sergeant said.

Watsonville police responded to a call last week from a witness who reported seeing a stolen Honda Accord in the 1700 block of Freedom Boulevard, but the car was driven away by the suspect before they arrived, police Sgt. Eric Montalbo said.

Officers searched the area around Freedom Boulevard and eventually discovered the stolen Accord parked in the parking lot of a shopping center in the 1300 block of Freedom Boulevard, Montalbo said.

As officers approached the car, they saw the suspect, Joe Luis Ortiz, exit the Accord, get into another Accord parked next to it and start the car using a shaved key, which police said are commonly used to steal cars. Additional officers arrived at the parking lot and placed Ortiz under arrest.

Following an investigation, police learned that the first Accord driven by Ortiz had been stolen earlier on April 12 from an address on Miller Road in southern Monterey County, Montalbo said.

Ortiz had in his possession many shaved keys that officers said he used to steal other cars in the county. Police later tied Ortiz to a third recent car theft from the parking lot of a business in Watsonville, Montalbo said.

 Ortiz is a documented gang member who at the time of his arrest was on probation for a vehicle theft committed last November, Montalbo said.

Officers took Ortiz to the county jail in Santa Cruz where he was booked on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, burglary, attempted vehicle theft, vehicle theft and violating his probation, according to Montalbo.

-- Bay City News

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