An early morning alarm activation turned out to be quite a scare for the owner of Steves Chevrolet on East F Street on Monday, May 19.
According to the Oakdale Police Department, Jeff Steves reported that he responded to his dealership just after 2 a.m. to investigate an alarm activation on the property. When he arrived he discovered a locked gate had been forced open and a chain on the ground.
When Steves prepared to call the police department, a white pickup truck drove toward him from the yard area and a subject in a work vest got out and identified himself as a security guard for the facility. The subject ordered Steves to move his vehicle which was blocking the pathway out of the property.
Steves, who knew the subject wasn’t a guard for the business, told the “security guard” he needed to make a call to police first.
“He was a bad actor,” Steves told The Leader on Tuesday.
The subject then brandished a lug wrench and came toward Steves, who retreated back inside his SUV to call police.
“I dialed direct and dispatch was real good,” Steves added. “They were all over it coming.”
The subject then rammed Steves’ SUV twice, pushing it out of the way, and escaped on to East F Street prior to police arriving.
“He was like a caged animal trying to get out,” Steves said. “It definitely shocked me.”
Steves received minor injuries from the collision.
After their arrival at the dealership, Oakdale Police received calls from the area of H Street and Grove Avenue reporting a possible collision in the area. Officers responded and found a white 2005 Chevrolet pickup with extensive front end damage and a flat front tire on the side of the road.
Steves identified the pickup as the one that rammed his SUV. Officers searched the truck and found lug nuts and a wallet inside the cab.
At the dealership, it appeared the suspect was attempting to take the rims and tires off a new Chevy truck.
The identification in the found wallet was for Leroy Cota, 46, of Salida and the registration for the truck was for Cota’s mother, also of Salida.
Police Chief Lester Jenkins said that officers are familiar with Cota from past police contacts.
During the investigation, Jenkins said he participated and constructed a photo line-up with Cota as one of six subjects and showed it to Steves, who identified Cota as the one who confronted him.
Court records show an extensive criminal history for Cota including felony convictions for weapons violations, assault with a deadly weapon, narcotics violations, and grand theft.
Police are considering Cota “armed and dangerous” and he is wanted for assault with a deadly weapon and for theft of vehicle parts.
“Over 40 years of alarms going for various reasons and I’ve never had the company burden the police,” Steves said. “This time it was something. I’m real fortunate.”