Woman finds her own stolen car, calls police in time to arrest pair

Tauna Oliver couldn’t believe her luck Tuesday.

The Fruita resident just happened to be driving down North Avenue at approximately 10:30 a.m. when she spotted a big red S emblem on the back of a chocolate gray Toyota Corolla Sport parked in front of Primo Gardens, 1600 North Ave.

Hmm, Oliver thought. That car looked familiar.

Her own car had been stolen from her garage along with her purse and keys a week earlier. Oliver was running errands dealing with the theft, including canceling her credit cards, changing the locks in her house and getting a new driver’s license.

Oliver drove around that block to check out the car. Sure enough, it was hers. It even had the Key West Parrot Head license plate frame she put on to honor her love of everything Jimmy Buffett.

She immediately called police on her cell phone and waited. Before they could arrive, however, two men got in the Corolla and drove off.

Oliver followed.

“I wasn’t as scared as I was mad, watching them drive my car. That was my car,” Oliver said, emphasizing the word “my” several times. “You know your own car. I recognized something on the back of it, and I said to myself, ‘Wow, that looks like my car.’ “

Keeping a discrete distance, Oliver followed, talking to a 911 dispatcher when they turned south onto 12th Avenue and then right onto Main Street.

At that point, an unmarked Grand Junction police car caught up, but before the officer could pull the men over, the pair sped off. They turned onto Seventh Street and again onto Rood Avenue, heading east. Clearly, they had spotted the tail.

“(The police officer) started to follow them, but they took off pretty fast,” Oliver said. “He stopped, and I stopped. He came over and said, ‘I can’t follow them. It’s just too dangerous.’ I understood that completely, especially downtown.”

A few minutes later, just as Oliver was planning to return to the hydroponics store to see if people there knew the occupants, she noticed police lights flashing a few blocks away.

The two men had run the car up on a curb and ditched it. Police said they captured Joseph Nagib of Pueblo about 20 minutes later, after finding him hiding in a storage shed in the 1200 block of Grand Avenue. A 16-year-old who was in the car with Nagib said he did not know the car was stolen. He was released without charges, according to the Grand Junction Police Department.

Nagib was arrested on suspicion of eluding, obstruction, child abuse, auto theft, reckless driving, driving without a license and criminal trespass.

As for Oliver, she doesn’t quite have her car back.

“I just wanted to have it all checked out to make sure it’s fine and, of course, have it cleaned really good to get all their whatever out of it,” she said. “I don’t want to get in that car until it’s clean again.”


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