News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Stolen iPhone and LoJack Lead to Arrest, Recovery of Stolen Vehicle
Contact : Zach Perron, Lieutenant, Police Department    650-329-2413
Tony Nathan Cota booking photo
Palo Alto, CA -- A car thief chose the wrong car to steal on Monday in San Jose, choosing one that was not only equipped with LoJack, but one that also had the victim's iPhone with GPS tracking software in the glove compartment.  Police in San Jose teamed up with officers in Palo Alto, who recovered the car and arrested the suspect.

On Monday, May 26, 2014, at about 5:48 p.m, our 24-hour dispatch center received a call from the San Jose Police Department requesting our assistance with recovering a vehicle that had been stolen within the past hour from the 100 block of South Market Street in San Jose, where it had been parked and temporarily unoccupied with the key left in the ignition.  Officers from the San Jose Police Department reported that the victim’s cell phone was in the vehicle, and that they had used the "Find My iPhone" app to track the stolen vehicle to the parking lot of the Town & Country Shopping Center at 855 El Camino Real in Palo Alto.  San Jose Police Department officers provided our personnel with a physical description of the suspect.

Officers from the Palo Alto Police Department responded to the area, and at about 5:56 p.m. located the stolen vehicle, a black 2013 Audi S-5 coupe, unoccupied in the shopping center parking lot.  The vehicle was also equipped with the LoJack stolen vehicle recovery system, which aided police in quickly finding the car.  Officers kept the car under observation until 7:00 p.m., in the hopes that the suspect would return to the vehicle, but he did not.  As officers began to process the car for evidence, though, one of them observed a man matching the suspect’s description walking into the CVS Pharmacy in the shopping center.  At 7:17 p.m., officers took him into custody without incident inside the pharmacy.

The investigation revealed that the suspect, 44-year-old Tony Nathan Cota of Fresno, had the key to the stolen vehicle in his pocket.  Officers also located methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia on his person.  Police booked Cota into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for felony vehicle theft, felony possession of narcotics, and possession of drug paraphernalia (a misdemeanor).  A booking photo of the suspect is attached to this release.

Police released the vehicle, with the victim’s iPhone still safely in the glove compartment, to the appreciative victim, a man in his forties.  The vehicle was not damaged.

Police credit the “Find My iPhone” app and the LoJack stolen vehicle recovery system in leading them to the suspect in this case.  We encourage people to enable security features in their portable electronic devices whenever possible, and to familiarize themselves with how to use them.  If your portable electronic device is stolen or lost and you are using a remote application to track its location, notify your local law enforcement agency immediately and do not take independent action to attempt to recover your property.

While the suspect in this case did not knowingly steal the iPhone, the theft of portable electronic devices is, unfortunately, a very common crime.  For more information about mobile electronic device theft and steps you can take to safeguard your property and information, watch “The Epidemic of iCrime,” a 5-minute video produced by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in 2013.  It can be found at

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.  Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.