Whenever Antonio Moreno wanted to see his girlfriend, police say, he’d jump in a car and drive right over.
But there was a problem. The 26 cars Moreno jumped into all belonged to someone else, according to authorities who arrested the 31-year-old near his Inglewood home on Wednesday. They said he was behind the wheel of a 1987 Toyota Camry when they found him.
Since January, police said, Moreno had been stealing Toyota Camrys and Nissan Sentras by using a simple device that starts Japanese cars of a certain age. Acting on a tip, members of a regional auto-theft task force took him into custody.
Some cars were stolen in Inglewood and abandoned in Santa Barbara, police said, while others were taken from Santa Barbara.
He was “stealing vehicles as transportation to pursue their relationship,” according to a statement from Lt. Paul McCaffrey, a Santa Barbara Police Department spokesman.
He didn’t have a driver’s license or car of his own, police said.
Moreno was jailed in Los Angeles for investigation of auto theft and was to be transferred to Santa Barbara to face charges, police said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Moreno had an attorney.
His girlfriend, who was not arrested, told authorities she had been trying to dump him.