Livingston police: Two men flee stolen car, are arrested

Two men were arrested Friday when officers stopped a stolen vehicle they were driving, Livingston Police Chief Ruben Chavez reported Sunday.

The suspects, identified as Leonel Villanueva, 20, and Diego Ortiz, 18, both of Livingston, tried to flee on foot at 12:39 p.m. when stopped by police, Chavez said. The vehicle, a black Honda, was reported stolen in Modesto.

When the car was pulled over near Joseph Street and Virginia Avenue, the men jumped out and started running, Chavez said. Villanueva, who was driving the vehicle, jumped over the fence of a home in the 1500 block of Joseph Street, police said.

Livingston High School and Campus Park Elementary School are a few blocks away, Chavez said, prompting police to lock down the schools in case the men were armed.

“The officer basically lost sight of them, and we were concerned for the safety of the schools,” Chavez said. “We called the Sheriff’s Department, and they came out with a K-9 officer and did a yard-to-yard search.”

A resident in the area called police about the same time, reporting a man hiding in her backyard. Villanueva pretended to be working on a car in the yard, Chavez said.

Both men were arrested and booked on suspicion of possession of stolen property, resisting arrest and possession of burglary tools. Villanueva was also booked on suspicion of driving with a suspended license.

Villanueva was being held Sunday in lieu of $12,580 bail, and Ortiz was being held on $11,500 bail.