Apr. 4—ALPHA — A New Jersey man is set to appear in court next week on a criminal charge that alleges he stole a car from a home in Alpha in September 2020.
The homeowner reported the vehicle stolen on Sept. 3, giving a description to law enforcement and saying that they had seen the suspect driving the car on the road. It was determined that the keys to the car had been inside the home, so whoever stole it had to have gone inside to get them.
Later, a person matching the description given by the victim was seen riding a bicycle now Interstate 90 in Jackson County. A sheriff's deputy identified the driver as Juan Ortega, 23, of Pennsauken, New Jersey, and cited Ortega for disregarding highway rules.
Police listed the vehicle as stolen. While looking into Ortega's background, they learned that he had had contact with law enforcement in Madelia the previous day and that he was listed as a missing person from St. Paul.
On Sept. 4, Ortega turned himself in to the Fontana Police Department in Fontana, California. He was charged with theft of a motor vehicle, a felony that carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. If convicted, Ortega will be sentenced based on criminal history.
His first court appearance is set for Wednesday morning. Because Ortega received a summons rather than being booked into jail, he does not have a mug shot.