Santa Barbara police, with the assistance of GM OnStar, tracked down a man suspected of stealing a truck after observing the owner leave the keys inside.
Sgt. Riley Harwood said David Daniel Peterson, 26, of unincorporated Santa Barbara was arrested Saturday and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of auto theft with a prior conviction, a felony, and destruction of evidence and resisting or delaying an officer, both misdemeanors. Bail was set at $30,000, with a no-bail detainer for violation of probation.
Officers responded about 7:50 a.m. Saturday to a report of an auto theft at McDonald’s at 3940 State St. The victim told police that his 2013 Chevrolet Silverado truck, valued at $38,000 and with $2,000 worth of tools in the bed, had been stolen.
According to Harwood, the victim told the officers that he had left the keys on the driver’s seat while he went into the restaurant to order food, and returned about four minutes later to discover his truck gone.
The victim noted that his truck was equipped with the GM OnStar navigation and communication service, according to Harwood. Police had the victim contact OnStar, which was able to locate the truck.
Following updates from OnStar, officers were led to the area of Foothill and Mission Canyon roads, where they spotted the stolen truck being driven westbound on Foothill Road. According to Harwood, the driver of the truck tried to shield his face from view while passing the officer, who was traveling in the opposite direction.
Officers found the truck abandoned at the end of Windsor Way, and neighbors advised that the suspect had run onto a nearby property.
Harwood said Peterson was found crawling through the brush on a hillside property and was arrested at gunpoint. Police determined that Peterson was on probation and had several past convictions for auto theft.
Peterson led police to where he had discarded the tools, in an effort to avoid detection by law enforcement, according to Harwood. The tools and the truck were returned to the victim.