WORTHINGTON - Santos Estansilao Lopez-Lopez, 22, of Worthington, was arrested Sunday following a traffic accident at the intersection of Second Avenue and 15th Street. Lopez-Lopez is accused of stealing a 2007 Dodge Caravan, a felony; driving without a valid license, a misdemeanor; and driving without insurance, a misdemeanor.
According to the criminal complaint, Worthington police officers responded to a two-vehicle, non-injury accident at approximately 2:17 p.m. Sunday. When officers arrived, a 2005 Chrysler Pacifica was parked on the north side of 15th Street, facing west between Second and Third avenues.
The vehicle had moderate damage to the front end and was inoperable. The officers also saw the 2007 Dodge Caravan, parked on Second Street facing south, just south of 15th Street. This vehicle also had damage to the front end rendering the vehicle inoperable.
When officers spoke with the driver of the Pacifica, she said she was driving south nearing 15th Street when she saw the van make its approach out onto the street. She said the van had a yield sign and she had thought the driver would yield, but he did not. The driver then slammed on her brakes and turned to the side, hoping their vehicles wouldn’t collide, but her bumper hit the van’s passenger side.
When an officer asked Lopez-Lopez for identification, he produced an Amway card and a Guatemalan passport.
Lopez-Lopez told the officer he did not have a valid license, nor was there insurance on the vehicle. He was placed under arrest.
After placing Lopez-Lopez in the squad car, the officer was approached by a man who claimed to be the owner of the van. The man said he was a relative of Lopez-Lopez and that he had recently purchased the van, but had not yet purchased insurance for it. The man added that Lopez-Lopez frequents the man’s home but has never been given permission to drive any of his vehicles.
The man stated he had been in church and was unaware the vehicle had been taken. He told the officer that Lopez-Lopez phoned him after the accident.
Following transport to the jail, Lopez-Lopez was read his Miranda rights and declined to give a statement. Kelley Blue Book indicates that used 2007 Dodge Caravans are valued at more than $1,000 but less than $5,000.
If convicted of felony theft, Lopez-Lopez faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both. Both misdemeanor charges carry maximum penalties of 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine or both. Lopez-Lopez is currently being held in the Nobles County Jail.