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Police discover 30 car keys, stolen car at motel

Claremont police discovered an apparent car theft operation after arresting two people Friday morning.

Officers responded to the Brighton park apartments at 1415 Morton Circle around 3 a.m. on a call for two suspicious subjects, according to Sgt. David DeMetz of the Claremont Police Department.

One of the subjects, 42-year-old Joseph Johnson of Upland, was in possession of a bicycle that was stolen from the complex, police said. Another subject, 34-year-old Samantha Evans of Upland, was seated inside a vehicle that also contained burglary tools, police said. Both were arrested.

Claremont detectives later searched a motel room in Upland where Mr. Johnson and Ms. Evans were staying. Inside, police found multiple toolboxes and more than 30 vehicle keys and key fobs for different types of vehicles. In the parking lot, police also found a Ford Edge that was stolen out of Claremont on October 27 that was linked to Mr. Johnson and Ms. Evans, police said.  

Jennifer Armas, the owner of the stolen car, told the COURIER in a previous interview that her keys were swiped from her purse while attending a work party at the Whisper House on October 27. In a phone interview on Tuesday, she said she got a call from Claremont police last Friday informing her that her car was found.

The car was found intact, but not in the best condition, Ms. Armas said.

“They ransacked the whole car, the car was filthy,” she said. “They were using it as their getaway car and using it as their own.”

All of her personal items—including her registration, business cards and dry-cleaned clothes—were not in the car when it was found. All that was left was a cook’s apron and the smell of cigarettes.

Based on the apron that was found, Ms. Armas thinks the culprit may have worked at one of the restaurants in the Village.

Mr. Johnson and Ms. Evans were both booked on a laundry list of charges—petty theft, grand theft auto, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of burglary tools, possession of stolen property and conspiracy. They made an appearance in Pomona Superior Court on Tuesday, November 7.

Although her car is back at home, Ms. Armas feels like continuous use by the people who stole it have left the car tainted.

“I’m going to sell it, its bad juju,” she said. “I’m just over it.”

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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