WASHINGTON COUNTY — Driving a stolen vehicle with its emergency flashers on is a good way to get noticed. A Minnesota man learned that lesson Monday when he was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle after catching the attention of authorities by driving through Hurricane with his emergency flashers on.
Just before 2 a.m., a sheriff’s deputy was traveling east on state Route 9 near 6000 West when he observed a vehicle in front of him traveling slowly with its emergency flashers on, according to a probable cause statement filed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in support of the arrest.
The driver of the vehicle was traveling in the fast lane – going 35 mph in a 60 mph zone – while pressing his brakes repeatedly, the deputy wrote in a sworn statement.
The deputy initiated a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, identified as 28-year-old Jose Omar Cortez-Arias, the report stated.
“Jose told me his car was breaking down and he needed oil,” the deputy wrote in the statement.
When the deputy ran the vehicle’s plates, he was alerted that the vehicle had been reported stolen out of Minnesota, according to the statement.
When questioned about the vehicle, Cortez-Arias told authorities that the car belonged to his girlfriend and that he was driving it to California, the report stated.
“I spoke with the case officer in Minnesota and he told me the car had been reported stolen on Sunday night just a few hours earlier,” the deputy stated. “I confirmed with him that the vehicle was stolen and he stated it definitely was stolen.”
Cortez-Arias was placed under arrest and transported to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
The Washington County Attorney’s Office filed an information in 5th District Court accusing Cortez-Arias of second-degree felony theft by receiving stolen property.
Judge John Walton, of the 5th District Court, ordered $10,000 bail for Cortez-Arias’ release pending trial.
Cortez-Arias was found indigent by the court during his initial court appearance Tuesday and will be represented by court-appointed attorney Michael Lastowski.
As this report is published, Cortez-Arias remains in police custody, according to booking information.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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