UPLAND, CA – A Pomona man who allegedly went to an Army Reserve Center in Upland, drove away with a military Humvee worth more than $200,000, and briefly led police on a chase through residential streets in Pomona was charged today in federal court with theft of United States government property.
Armando Garcia, 29, who is currently on parole after being convicted last year in state court on theft and burglary charges, was named today in a criminal complaint filed in United States District Court. Garcia, who was taken into state custody following the police chase on Monday, is expected to be turned over to the federal authorities later this month.
The complaint alleges that Garcia stole a militarized High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle – commonly known as a Humvee – midday on Monday. Soon after Garcia drove off with the semi-armored combat vehicle with a turret mount, Pomona Police officers saw the Humvee and attempted to make a traffic stop of the unlicensed vehicle, according to the complaint.
“During the pursuit, which lasted approximately four minutes, the Humvee traveled at excessive speeds, drove on the wrong side of the street (in the direction of oncoming traffic), failed to stop at multiple red lights and stops signs, and failed to signal for turns,” according to an affidavit filed with the complaint. Garcia stopped the Humvee in front of a residence on East Kingsley Avenue in Pomona, where he was taken into custody without further incident.
Inside the Humvee, police found a large pair of bolt cutters and an Army-approved padlock that appeared to have been cut, according to the complaint, which notes the padlock had secured a steel wire put in place to prevent the turning of the steering wheel inside the vehicle.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted of the charge in the complaint, Garcia would face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
This matter is being investigated by the FBI’s San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force. The Pomona Police Department is the sponsoring agency of the Task Force and has hosted the task force since its inception in 2008.