Police on Saturday arrested a suspected car thief in the city’s first successful use of the new “LoJack” homing device used to track and recover stolen vehicles.
“He was very surprised,” Officer Stella Lara of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Stolen Vehicle Recovery Network said of the suspect’s reaction when told he was the first person to be arrested with the aid of the new device. “He thought of himself as a celebrity, because he was the first guy that we caught that way.”
Lara said the suspect, Tom Sinanian, 21, of Lawndale, allegedly stole the red 1990 BMW 325i convertible from a car rental lot in the Hollywood area about 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
As soon as its owner reported it stolen, police activated the LoJack transmitter that had recently been installed in the vehicle, the officer said, and within minutes, a police patrol car picked up the unique signal on its special LoJack receiver.
It took three patrol cars only 80 minutes to converge on the stolen car, which officers pulled over at Arbor Vitae Street and La Cienega Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport, Lara said.
“I picked up the signal southbound on (the) 405 (Freeway) at Century,” the officer said. “At that time, I coordinated with two additional units and set up a perimeter.”
Lara said the device allows officers to determine a stolen car’s direction. She said Officer Randy Fudala made the arrest.
Lara said the BMW’s ignition had been punched out, but was otherwise undamaged.
Sinanian was booked at the Van Nuys jail on suspicion of grand theft auto. He was taken to Van Nuys because that jail has an infirmary. Police said the suspect apparently had a minor arm injury unrelated to his arrest or the auto theft.
The $595 device, manufactured by Massachussetts-based LoJack Corp., is about the size of a blackboard eraser, small enough to be hidden in any of 35 places in a car. Using special tracking computers installed in patrol cars, police can follow a signal emitted by the device within a radius of two to four miles.
Each device emits a signal that is unique to the car it is installed in.
The Los Angeles Police Department began using the system last week, Lara said.