Contributed Photo/Courtesy SPD
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – An officer pursued who he believed was a wanted man driving recklessly in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Aug. 7, only to later learn the car was possibly stolen.
According to a Safford Police report, an officer was in the Economy Inn parking lot at 225 E. U.S. Highway 70 when a black Nissan sedan with two occupants drove past him heading eastbound. As the Nissan went by, the officer thought he recognized the driver as Antonio John Paul Rea, 21, who the officer reported has active felony warrants for his arrest. Rea was previously arrested on a warrant relating to a petition to revoke his probation for burglary in the second degree and possession of drug paraphernalia. Rea is also on probation for separate charges for possession of heroin and methamphetamine.
The officer reported the driver looked at him as he drove past and then suddenly burst into a reckless speed. The officer pursued but lost sight of the Nissan in the 200 block of E. Main Street. He later found the car abandoned the 200 block of E. 7th Street. The two occupants were not located.
The officers learned the car’s registered owner was incarcerated at the Graham County Adult Detention Facility and had the car towed.
Later that morning at about 10:28 a.m., the girlfriend of the car’s registered owner called the police and reported the Nissan stolen. She said she had parked her boyfriend’s car in front of their residence at about 10:30 p.m. the previous night and awoke the next morning to find it missing.
At first, she thought maybe the vehicle had been repossessed due to a missed payment, but after not seeing any repossessions the previous day, a new officer responded to the jail and the registered owner signed a stolen vehicle affidavit.
After leaving the jail, the officer learned that the car had already been towed earlier that day after the run-in with the first officer. He then returned to the reporting party, and, after she insisted she hadn’t lent the car out to anyone, advised her where it had been taken.