An Atwater man has been charged with car theft for the third time in five months, the Merced County District Attorney's Office reported on Wednesday.
The office filed felony charges against 24-year-old Ray Remijio Andrada of Atwater after he was found on March 18 in a car in Atwater that had been reported stolen, according to Hal Nutt, chief deputy district attorney.
Andrada was convicted of felony vehicle theft on Nov. 15 before entering a drug rehabilitation program the next month, according to investigators, but left the program after four days.
Later that month on Dec. 28, Los Banos police arrested Andrada during a separate investigation of a stolen vehicle, investigators said. He was charged with felony vehicle theft for that incident and convicted on Feb. 14, according to the district attorney's office.
At the hearing on Valentine's Day, Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby argued Andrada should see prison time because he had already walked away from his drug program, investigators said.
Despite the prosecutor's urging, Andrada was allowed to register again into the rehabilitation program, according to the district attorney's office. This time, Andrada walked from the program on Feb. 28, the day after he had been released.
Andrada is facing felony stolen vehicle charges and is in custody of the Merced County Sheriff’s Office. He's held without bail, according to jail records. He's due in court April 18.