Area transient recognized by SPPD arrested after pursuit of stolen vehicle
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Police Department
Published: November 30, 2012
An area transient who has had numerous brushes with the law was arrested Wednesday after he crashed a stolen Honda after a pursuit by Santa Paula Police.
According to Senior Officer Allen Macias, the November 28 incident started when SPPD Officer Joash Rothermel conducted a records check on a Honda parked at an apartment complex in the 400 block of Ojai Road. “That vehicle,” said Macias, “was reported stolen out of the City of Ventura.”
Macias also responded to the scene and found that a second Honda parked at the same location had been backed into a space so the license was hidden. When he walked around and obtained the license number it was found the second Honda had been reported stolen from Oxnard.
Surveillance was conducted, and at about 10:25 a.m. a male entered one of the stolen Hondas and drove off. Macias coordinated with other SPPD officers to assist with a traffic stop as he followed the vehicle south through an alley to Saticoy Street and then to the intersection of 12th and Main streets. One of the responding officers advised Macias that “from previous contacts” he recognized the driver, Justin Steele, 25, an area transient.
As a traffic stop was attempted on the Honda, Steele drove off and started to flee, traveling at about 40 mph southbound on 12th Street going through a Ventura Street stop sign. “As he approached Harvard Boulevard,” Macias said Steele failed to stop and instead turned right against the red traffic light, and “almost collided with a vehicle that was westbound in the intersection.”
With patrol cars following with lights and sirens, Steele picked up speed as he traveled at about 50 mph west on Harvard Boulevard until he made an abrupt left turn onto 10th Street. Macias said Steele “then veers to the right” to enter westbound Highway 126. “As he was doing that another vehicle was also entering” the onramp, and the Honda driven by Steele “almost collided with that vehicle.”
Once Steele entered the highway he picked up speed, but was unable to get past heavy traffic although in attempting to do Macias said Steele “showed an apparent disregard for public safety.... He was traveling 65 mph to 70 mph” until the Honda approached the Briggs Road exit.
Macias said Steele veered off the highway and entered the exit “at a high rate of speed, and as he was exiting he ends up losing control” of the vehicle, which crashed into the curb. The Honda then left the roadway and went down an embankment, where it struck a tree.
Steele, who was not injured, was taken into custody without further incident. Three SPPD patrol units were involved in the pursuit, of which the CHP and Ventura County Sheriff’s Department had been notified.
Steele was arrested for suspicion of vehicle theft and evading a peace officer. “Upon his arrest,” Macias said Steele was found to be “in possession of a usable amount of methamphetamine.”
The Honda parked at the apartment complex was recovered and Macias said he does not know the damage estimate for the vehicle Steele crashed into the tree. When asked why Steele seemed to allegedly focus on the Honda model, Macias said the popular vehicle’s “life expectancy is pretty much forever,” and thieves often “strip them and sell them out for parts.”
Macias asks if “anybody has any information on any stolen vehicles in the city of Santa Paula,” they should call him at 805-525-4474 extension 146.