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Suspected Santa Rosa car thief eludes capture

A man suspected of fleeing law enforcement Tuesday morning after they found him driving a stolen car remained at large after a manhunt in an area around Santa Rosa Junior College.

A woman reported at around 8:45 a.m. that her 1999 Lexus SUV had been stolen from her fenced-in yard on Todd Road at some point during the night, said CHP Officer Ed Blanco, who took the report. The woman had apparently left the car unlocked with her key in the center console.

Sheriff's deputies tracked a signal from a radio tranceiver installed in the car to a residence in the 700 block of Mendocino Avenue, Bernard said.

But as they arrived, the suspected thief, who is believed to have been driving the vehicle, fled on foot, leaping over at least two fences, said Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Pedersen. Law enforcement established a perimeter and began searching for the man. The sheriff's Henry 1 helicopter flew overhead, also looking for him.

Law enforcement detained three other people riding in the Lexus, but none of them would identify the man who fled, Pedersen said. They arrested one man, 33-year-old Moni Preap of Santa Rosa, after he identified himself with a real name that did not belong to him, which is a felony. Preap also had a no-bail warrant for his arrest, Pedersen said. The other two passengers were questioned and relesased, Pedersen said.

The county's auto theft task force is investigating the case, Pedersen said.


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