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News Release

Monday, February 17, 2003

Media Relations

Man Steals Car with Dead Owner Inside


Los Angeles: Los Angeles Police Department’s Newton Area Homicide Detectives are investigating the death of a man found inside a stolen vehicle. The vehicle, at the time of discovery, was being driven around the Los Angeles Area by an unaware car thief.

On Sunday, February 16, 2003, patrol officers from the Huntington Park Police Department observed a vehicle commit a vehicle code violation near Santa Ana Boulevard and Mountain View Avenue. After a short pursuit, the vehicle came to a stop and officers removed the driver.

As the officers searched the van, they discovered a dead male inside the vehicle.

The investigation revealed that the dead man had been reported missing on Saturday, February 15, 2003, in Southeast Division. The following morning, on Sunday February 16, 2003, 30 year-old Los Angeles resident Juan Preciado was walking near the intersection of 47th Street and McKinley Avenue when he observed the parked vehicle.

Preciado stole the vehicle not realizing that the person inside was actually dead and not asleep. Preciado later admitted to police that he had subsequently rifled through the dead man’s pockets after he thought the man was unconscious. It was later determined that the unidentified vehicle owner had died of natural causes. Preciado was arrested and booked for Grand Theft Auto.

Newton Area Homicide Detectives are conducting the investigation. Anyone with information regarding this incident is requested to call 213-485-5277. On weekends and during off-hours, please call the toll free information number at the Detective Information Desk at 1-877-LAWFULL, 1-877-529-3855.

This press release was prepared by Public Information Officer Jack Richter, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.