The calls came in Monday afternoon: Two drivers were sideswiped off Airport Road by a black Land Rover. A third driver was hit near Capital High.
Santa Fe officers, with the aid of a police dog, arrested 41-year-old Ruben Mendoza on a slew of charges after he was accused of taking a stolen Range Rover on a reckless driving spree.
Police now suspect Mendoza stole four vehicles Sunday night from a local Land Rover dealer.
Shaun Parrish, the owner of Santa Fe British Motors, said he has recovered three of the vehicles, including the one police say Mendoza had been driving.
Mendoza was charged with 19 crimes Monday. Among them were four counts of aggravated assault, three counts of reckless driving and three counts of leaving the scene of an accident, according to a criminal complaint.
He has not been charged in the vehicle thefts, but Santa Fe police Deputy Chief Joye said Mendoza is the department’s main suspect.
Officers arrested him at a mobile home park, where they confronted him after receiving reports that a man was trying to break down an office door. The criminal complaint said when police arrived, Mendoza got into a black Land Rover with no license plate, stated the ignition and ignored the officers’ commands. They were able to get him out of the vehicle with the help of a K-9.
Police determined the vehicle Mendoza was driving had been stolen from Santa Fe British Motors.
It would be one of four vehicles Parrish would find missing when he arrived at work Monday morning. He also discovered a shop window had been smashed and the keys had been stolen out of an office.
Two of the stolen vehicles were located quickly, Parrish said. One was left damaged at the front of the shop and police found another abandoned just a mile away.
The vehicle Mendoza was driving before his arrest, the 2010 Range Rover Sport, was the third vehicle taken from the dealer, Joye said.
Parrish is still missing a silver 2008 Land Rover LR3.
He said Mendoza “was the boyfriend of one of our customers, and he made friends with us and sort of cased the place. He knew where to go in the shop to get certain things.”
Other stolen goods and an empty bottle of Crown Royal whiskey were left inside the Range Rover after Mendoza’s arrest, Parrish added.
“The cops were amazing, honestly,” he said. “I cannot believe how quickly they put that whole deal together and apprehended him.”
Parrish said he hopes the community will be on the lookout for the last Land Rover stolen from his business.