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March 31, 2014

Modesto police: Friend's quick action recovered car stolen after owner left it running

A 22-year-old woman who left her car running lost it to theft Monday morning, but some quick action on the part of a friend led to its return and the arrests of two suspects, authorities said.

A 22-year-old woman who left her car running lost it to theft Monday morning, but some quick action on the part of a friend led to its return and the arrests of two suspects, authorities said.

According to Modesto Police Department spokeswoman Heather Graves, the woman left her Honda Civic running with the driver’s side door unlocked when she went into her house in the 1100 block of Valencia Court at 7:30 a.m. When the woman returned outside, her car was being driven away.

“The suspect did leave behind a silver bicycle,” Graves said. The victim called a friend and told him what happened. As the friend headed to the victim’s home, he spotted the car in the 900 block of Scenic Drive.

“As the friend is following the vehicle, it looks like (the suspects) are trying to remove the vehicle,” Graves said.

He provided police with its location; officers responding found the car in the airport neighborhood.

They also found two people, running away from the car. One of them was carrying the stereo. Police nabbed the suspects and arrested Celia Gonzales, 31, and James Romano II, 23, both of Modesto.

The two were booked into Stanislaus County Jail on charges including auto theft and possession of stolen property.

“We once again encourage people not to leave their cars warming up,” Graves said. Not only is it a risky behavior, she said, “It’s against the law. You can be cited for that.”

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