Inoperable taillights led Ceres Police Sgt. Darren Venn to stop the driver of an older pickup only to learn that it had been stolen 12 days prior and was spray-painted a different color.
Sgt. Venn was on patrol in the 1800 block of Mitchell Road at 3:08 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21 when he made the observation and pulled over Andrew Huddleston, 35, of Hughson in the parking lot of Walmart.
Huddleston said his license was expired and he was waiting for the new one in the mail. A check showed Huddleston was on probation for theft auto and felony vandalism. Then Sgt. Venn noticed the pickup appeared to have been recently spray-painted flat black. He ran a check of the vehicle ID number which showed it had been stolen in Modesto on Nov. 8. Sgt. Venn arrested Huddleston and saw the steering column was slightly damaged and there were no keys in the ignition.
Huddleston denied knowing the pickup was stolen and said he bought it about a month ago for $700 from some unnamed “guy” on Faith home Road but could not supply an address and had no bill of sale. Huddleston had no answer when asked how he bought the vehicle over a month ago when it was reported stolen on Nov. 8.
Sgt. Venn noticed spray paint cans in the bed of the truck which matched the color of the vehicle. Huddleston admitted to painting the vehicle, saying he wanted it to be flat black.
Sgt. Venn found another plate behind the rear plate assigned to a 1995 Chevy truck. The plates were taken as evidence.
The vehicle owner could not be reached and the vehicle was towed.
Huddleston was booked for felony auto theft, possession of stolen property, and probation violation.