Atwater police recover vehicle, 'large quantities' of stolen mail after car chase

A short pursuit of a stolen vehicle over the weekend ended with an Atwater police officer recovering “large quantities” of stolen mail, police said.

Justin Alves was booked at the John Latorraca Correctional Facility on suspicion of vehicle theft, evading police, receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools and driving on a suspended license, the Atwater Police Department reported.

Alves, 21, was still in custody Monday in lieu of $122,080 bail.

He is listed as a “transient” without a known street address, police said.

The brief chase began when Officer Jason Dasilva spotted a 1996 Honda Civic pulling into Atwater Iron and Metal on Applegate Road about 4 a.m. Sunday, police said.

As the officer approached, the vehicle turned around and sped away, Lt. Samuel Joseph said.

The driver, who was later identified by police as Alves, ran a stop sign on Applegate Road with Dasilva in pursuit. The driver raced through at least one more stop sign at Applegate and Jordan roads, at speeds ranging between 30 mph and 60 mph, Joseph said.

The driver pulled over in the 6400 block of White Crane Road and surrendered.

Investigators later learned the Honda was an unreported stolen vehicle out of Merced, and Alves reportedly admitted running from police because the vehicle was stolen, Joseph said.

Inside the vehicle officers found a large amount of recently stolen mail. Alves reportedly admitted stealing the letters and packages from homes on Rainbow Lane, Peace Court, Buckeye Lane, Epps Drive and Celestial Drive, police said.

Joseph said mail theft can be charged as a federal offense.

No injuries were reported and no property was damaged during the pursuit.