Carlsbad license plate reader found the stolen car

Police used facial recognition technology to ID the driver

Rigoberto: “I have a little business, pizza and tamales."
  • Rigoberto: “I have a little business, pizza and tamales."

Rigoberto said his car went missing from his home near downtown San Diego on May 5.

Flores "would go out to make deliveries and park wherever he felt like it."

Flores "would go out to make deliveries and park wherever he felt like it."

He got the silver, 2004 Volkswagen Beetle from someone who owed him $2,500, so he figured that is what it was worth. After he got his car back on May 31, he said, “It is not worth anything.”

Rigoberto testified at a hearing Monday, July 16, for Javier Urioste Flores, 35, the man found driving his car. Both men had benefit of Spanish-speaking interpreters during their time in court July 16.

Defendant Flores had worked as a delivery driver for Rigoberto, who said “I have a little business, pizza and tamales, in San Diego.” Flores made food deliveries for about two months, ending in March of this year. “The problem is that he would go out to make deliveries and park wherever he felt like it and they would give him tickets,” Rigoberto explained. Paperwork for those tickets came to Rigoberto’s home because he was the registered owner of the car. “He did not pay the tickets, I was going to do it, because I was concerned about losing my license,” Rigoberto said.

Carlsbad police officer Sean Kearney testified that it was 11 a.m. on Wednesday May 30, when he went to La Costa Avenue and Saxony Road, responding to a “license plate reader hit at that location.” Officer Kearney said there is a “fixed location” license plate reader there. The officer found the silver Volkswagen with a single occupant, the driver, who gave him a false name, he said. Another officer on the scene used a phone with a facial recognition app, and Carlsbad police were able to determine the true identity of their suspect, according to testimony.

Defense attorney Lacey Golling claimed that defendant Flores had an agreement with his employer to purchase that car. She asserted that Flores has no other criminal record, except for a DUI from 2012, and then requested the felony car theft charges should be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Prosecutor Melissa O’Campo claimed that Javier Urioste Flores was arrested in 2017 for felony assault with a deadly weapon in downtown San Diego, but that case was dismissed because the district attorney’s office “lost contact with the victim.”

Honorable judge David J. Danielsen ordered Flores to face two felonies: possession of stolen vehicle and felony take-and-drive. Flores pleaded not guilty to all charges, is currently held in lieu of $25,000 bail, and is expected back in court August 13 to set a date for trial.

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Defense attorney Lacey Golling made a vigorous defense for her client, trying to get the felony charges reduced to misdemeanor.

But prosecutor Melissa O’Campo prevailed, convincing Honorable judge David J. Danielsen to order Flores to go forward to trial, facing two felonies.

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