Since January, a Los Angeles man with no vehicle or drivers license has been stealing cars to get back-and forth between his residence in Inglewood and that of his girlfriend in Santa Barbara, police say. When he arrived at his destination, he would abandon the vehicle and then steal another, leaving an extensive trail in his wake.
In just four months, Antonio Moreno, 31, allegedly stole 26 vehicles – 15 of them in Santa Barbara – to make the roughly 90-mile trips up and down the coast. Of the 15 stolen Santa Barbara vehicles, eight were recovered abandoned in the Inglewood/Hawthorne area. Most of the vehicles were stolen from the lower Eastside. On the opposite end, nine Toyota Camrys (like the one pictured) were found near his girlfriend’s home, by the intersection of Soledad and Quinientos streets.
Moreno was arrested on April 27 after police received a tip about a possible suspect, and Los Angeles police spotted him in a black 1988 Toyota Camry which had been stolen a few days earlier in Santa Barbara. Police believe he used a “simple device” able to start mid-1980s to early 1990s Japanese vehicles to get past the ignition lock to start the cars.
The Santa Barbara Police Department and a Los Angeles regional auto theft taskforce worked together on the investigation, and Moreno is in Los Angeles City Jail pending a return to Santa Barbara, where he will face charges. The woman, who had been trying to end the relationship over the last several weeks, was questioned and released.