General Crime

Tony Cota Arrested After Iphone Left In Glove Box Helps Police Find Stolen Car In Palo Alto

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Palo Alto police are crediting tracking technology for locating a car stolen from downtown San Jose on Monday as well as a Fresno man who was arrested on suspicion of the theft, police said today.

Palo Alto police received a call from San Jose police at 5:48 p.m. Monday asking for assistance in finding a car stolen from the 100 block of Market Street in San Jose, Palo Alto police Lt. Zach Perron said.

The owner of the car had parked the black 2013 Audi S5 coupe with the key left in the ignition prior to the theft, Perron said.

San Jose police learned that the car was equipped with the LoJack stolen vehicle recovery system and that the owner had also left an iPhone with a “Find My Phone” tracking app inside the glove compartment, according to police.

Using the iPhone app, San Jose police tracked the Audi to the Town & Country Village shopping center at 855 El Camino Real in Palo Alto and officers provided Palo Alto police with a description of the suspected car thief, Perron said.

At 5:56 p.m., Palo Alto police arrived at the parking lot of the shopping center and using the LoJack system, officers located the Audi, which was not occupied.

Officers kept the car under watch, hoping the suspect would return to it, but gave up at about 7 p.m. and started to process the car for evidence.

An officer then spotted a man who matched the description of the suspect walking into a CVS Pharmacy.

Officers confronted the suspect, identified as Tony Cota, 44, of Fresno, and found he had the key to the Audi in his pocket and also possessed methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Palo Alto police arrested Cota inside the drug store at 7:17 p.m. and booked him into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of vehicle theft, felony possession of narcotics and misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia.

Police, who released the car and the iPhone to the owner, credited the iPhone app and the LoJack system for leading them to the suspect, Perron said.

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