COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Police quickly nabbed an alleged gang member who stole a running car around midnight Tuesday.
Someone left their vehicle running and unlocked when they went into the Maverik convenience store at 1300 East and Fort Union Boulevard, according to Cottonwood Heights Police Sgt. Ryan Shosted.
He said 22-year-old Cortez Quarles jumped into the vehicle while its owner was in the store and took off.
The vehicle owner reported the theft and within minutes an officer from the Unified Police Department spotted the vehicle near 1000 East and Fort Union Boulevard, according to Shosted. He said the officer followed the vehicle until officers from Cottonwood Heights arrived. The officers continued to follow the stolen vehicle into a dead end with their lights off.
"They began to make the stop on the car, and the driver tried to flee and ended up ramming a UPD police car," Shosted said. "Officers were able to get the car stopped right then and pulled the driver out and took him into custody."
Police said they found a stolen gun, meth and drug paraphernalia in Cortez's possession. He could face charges for driving under the influence, possession of a weapon by a restricted person, assault on an officer, vehicle theft and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Shosted said Cortez told investigators that he is a member of a local gang.
The Unified police patrol car that was rammed sustained minor damage.
Vehicle thefts are more popular this time of year, with many owners leaving their cars unlocked, according to Shosted. He said people tend to leave their car running while warming it up or making a quick stop at places like gas stations.
"Literally, they only plan to be in there for two minutes, and that's all it takes," Shosted said. "People who steal cars oftentimes are opportunists and just try to run in and take your car when they get that opportunity. So, if you lock your car and take your key with you you're going to save gas and potentially your car."