Two days after it was stolen from a Ceres High School substitute teacher in the school staff parking lot, a Toyota Camry was returned to its owner with a suspect booked for auto theft.
The car was reported stolen at 12:22 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15. The owner said he locked the car in the CHS parking lot at the southeast corner of Central and Whitmore avenues before the start of school.
At 10:10 p.m. Friday Officer Vince Hooper spotted the red car traveling southbound on Herndon Road near Joyce Avenue. He made a felony traffic stop at the Chevron gas station at 1501 Herndon Road. Hooper held the driver at gunpoint until backup arrived. Driver Jose Guadalupe Mercado-Torres, 26, of Ceres, was arrested without incident.
He stated a friend let him borrow the vehicle and did not know the vehicle was stolen. When asked who let him borrow the vehicle Mercado-Torres only said he did not steal it. Police found a shaved Chevrolet key - modified keys commonly used to steal vehicles - as well as a Toyota key and another generic car key. The car owner told police the keys did not belong to his car and that he did not know Mercado-Torres.
Mercado-Torres was found to be on active probation for drug offenses and auto theft. He was booked into the County Jail for auto theft, possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, and probation violation. He was also booked on the two outstanding warrants for his arrest which were for auto theft and possession of a controlled substance.