Car thief crashes, steals 2nd vehicle

A car thief fled from a chain-reaction collision she caused on the Costa Mesa Freeway on Wednesday by stealing another car from the accident scene, authorities said.

“Apparently she upgraded,” said Officer Jennifer Hink, a spokeswoman for the California Highway Patrol, noting the woman arrived in a 1993 Honda and left in a 2008 Toyota Camry.

The accident occurred about 8 a.m. in the southbound lanes just north of Dyer Road. About two hours earlier, the woman had allegedly snatched the Honda from a Corona garage when its owner left its engine running to go back inside.

On the freeway, the Honda rear-ended a 2006 Mini Cooper driven by Joanna Chan, 27, which then bumped into the Toyota ahead of it driven by Emily Nguyen, 24. As Chan and Nguyen exchanged information, Hink said, the thief got into the Toyota and sped away.


She was described as Latina, 35 to 40, with brown curly hair, about 5 feet 4 and 130 pounds. Authorities said she was last seen driving the light blue Camry -- license plate 6BZD326 -- toward southern Orange County.


-- David Haldane