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License plate readers lead El Cajon Police to stolen vehicles

Posted at 11:05 AM, Aug 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-15 14:05:05-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The El Cajon Police Department Tuesday announced the arrests of two juveniles on suspicion of auto theft and a 24-year-old man in another auto theft, both using recently installed automated license plate readers.

The system's cameras send real-time crime alerts to law enforcement when a stolen vehicle, or known wanted vehicle, from a state or national database, is detected, according to ECPD Lt. K. MacArthur. The alert and camera system is called Flock Safety.

At about 12:37 p.m. Monday, ECPD officers received a Flock Safety license plate alert for a vehicle that was reported stolen from Spring Valley on Sunday, the lieutenant said.

"Two juveniles deceptively took an elderly male's vehicle and left him stranded," MacArthur said.

Officers located the stolen vehicle in the area of North Second Street and Clarendon Street in El Cajon, with businesses on one side of the street and homes on the other. Officers conducted a felony stop on the vehicle and took the driver and a passenger into custody.

The driver was a 16-year-old boy, and the passenger was a 14-year-old girl. MacArthur said both were arrested on suspicion of auto theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, and elder abuse. Both suspects were taken to Juvenile Hall, but officials there would not accept them, so they were released to their parents. Their names were not made public due to their ages.

More than 12 hours later, at about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, ECPD started receiving multiple alerts for a stolen vehicle on the city's southwest side. The lieutenant said the vehicle was reported stolen in San Diego on Sunday. Officers located the vehicle and driver in a convenience store parking lot in the 1200 block of West Main Street.

Officers arrested the suspect, 24-year-old Nickolaz Oliver, who was later booked into jail on suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle.

The use of the recently installed Flock Safety system was instrumental in locating the stolen vehicles in these cases, MacArthur said.