Near collision leads to recovery of stolen Jeep

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Tyler Torres was arrested and booked for theft of means of transportation.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – When driving a stolen vehicle, one probably should avoid bringing attention to oneself.

A stolen Jeep was recovered Thursday, July 19, after a woman reported almost having a collision with it. The woman recognized the red Jeep as belonging to her friend and followed it to the parking lot of Walmart. However, she then saw a man she did not recognize exit the driver’s side and a woman she didn’t know exit the passenger’s side and enter Walmart through the Tire and Lube center.

The woman called the police and officers arrived and scoured the store for the suspects. After viewing store surveillance footage, an officer recognized seeing the male suspect, identified as Tyler Torres, 27, in the store earlier but had lost sight of him. Later, officers would see text messages of a conversation on Torres’ cell phone between him and the woman he was with, indicating he was hiding in the restroom as she attempted to blend in with other shoppers.

Torres was apprehended as he attempted to leave the store, however, and gave various accounts of how he came to be at Walmart.

Torres first denied driving to the store and said the woman he was with picked him up in a blue car. After being informed of a witness who saw him driving the Jeep, Torres changed his story and said the woman picked him up in the Jeep and asked him to drive. He said the woman used a knife to start the Jeep, but he still didn’t realize it was stolen.

The woman was also located and advised that she had called a friend for a ride to Walmart so she could have a tire fixed. The friend wasn’t able to give her a ride but said Torres could, and he picked her up in the Jeep.

Torres was then arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility for theft of means of transportation. The woman was not charged, and the Jeep was returned to the owner.