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Owner fails to tell PD stolen car was recovered
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Three Manteca officers train their weapons on a Jeep Cherokee while patrolman Ken Wells takes the driver into custody with two passengers remaining in the car. - photo by GLENN KAHL/ The Bulletin
A police officer with a photographic memory is an asset to any department, and Manteca’s is no different.

Manteca patrolman John Moody was pulling into a shopping center on the west side of North Main Street and Alameda for his lunch break at about 11:30 a.m. on Monday,

Moody says he doesn’t forget a wanted car, person or a license plate number.  As he drove into the parking area he spotted a white Jeep Cherokee that looked suspiciously familiar and a license that he knew was related to a reported stolen vehicle.  The registration on the vehicle had also expired about a year ago, he said.

As the car pulled out of the center Moody gave chase and called for backup from other officers in the area, with the car coming to a stop in an abandoned service station across the street on the corner of Alameda.  Three other police vehicles responded with red lights and siren pulling in behind Moody’s unit.

Police initiated a high risk felony hot stop with guns drawn.  The driver was first ordered out of the vehicle, walking slowly backwards toward the officers until he was handcuffed by patrolman Ken Wells.   In addition to Moody, other officers, including Armen Avakian and Sgt. Jody Estarziau, maintained their vigilance on the car and its other two occupants at gunpoint until they were taken guardedly out of the vehicle and put into cuffs.

The Manteca driver explained that his car was no longer stolen and showed proof that he was the registered owner and noted he had just failed to tell the police department that his Jeep Cherokee had been returned to him.  Officers did background warrant checks on all three men discovering a hand-held BB gun in the front seat that appeared to be a Glock hand gun.

Officers on the scene all agreed that having a gun looking so real in a car could get a motorist killed when someone mistook it for being the real thing and possibly firing at them in self defense.

The passenger in the right front seat – where the hand gun was located – Tony Nunes, 38, of Manteca, was arrested on a felony no-bail warrant for auto theft and transported to San Joaquin County Jail, police said. The driver and the other briefly detained passenger were released at the scene of the stop.