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[whitespace] Attempted theft worthy of a 'how not to' manual

Los Gatos--Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police officers busted two alleged car thieves and got a laugh in the process on Nov. 15, following a sequence of events worthy of becoming a "How Not to Steal a Car" manual.

Following the arrests, police booked Watsonville residents Daniel Collins, 23, and Frank Watts, 21, into the Santa Clara County Jail on charges of auto theft, auto burglary, misdemeanor hit and run, possession of stolen property and possession of burglary tools.

Sgt. Lane Davis and Officer Jim Weins responded to a 2 a.m. call reporting a suspicious person attempting to enter cars on Loma Alta Avenue, off Los Gatos Boulevard. Officers arriving at the scene pulled over Collins, who was driving on Loma Alta Avenue with his headlights off. Police discovered items from an auto burglary in his car, and were continuing their investigation when Watts was seen driving a Chevrolet Suburban on Cross Way, which intersects Loma Alta Avenue.

Watts, seeing his friend in police custody, braked rapidly and began to drive backwards on Cross Way. Officers followed the stolen Suburban and noticed that the front driver's door was open and no one was behind the wheel. The SUV eventually came to a stop after crashing into a parked vehicle.

Police apprehended Watts after finding him hiding in bushes near the now-unoccupied Suburban. As police investigated the crime, attention shifted to a third vehicle parked in the middle of Loma Alta Avenue. Officers noticed skid marks leading from the pickup truck toward a house on Loma Alta, as well as fresh damage to the front bumper.

Based on the investigation and interviews with the suspects, police concluded that as Watts was stealing the Suburban--using keys found under the driver's seat--he backed into the pickup truck. The SUV's trailer hitch embedded itself into the front of the pickup truck, and the truck was dragged nearly 200 yards before it dislodged from the Suburban.

Collins told police he watched the entire incident from his car, prior to being arrested. "This is something you would hear on the radio about 'Crooks Are Stupid,'" he told police, referring to a popular segment on a local radio station. "I was laughing so hard I forgot to turn on my headlights."

Sgt. Tim Morgan said the department got quite a laugh out of the incident. "When I got down [to the scene], I was dying," Morgan said. "It was pretty comical."
Nathan R. Huff

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Web extra to the November 30-December 6, 2000 issue of Metro.

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