■ By Mary Ann Morris / Editor
What started out as a simple traffic stop turned into something much bigger on June 19 for Murrieta police. Because of a recent spate of car thefts, Murrieta police began conducting extra patrols.
An officer initiated a traffic stop on a truck on Elm Street near Madison Avenue. The driver, however, failed to yield to the officer and fled at a high rate of speed north on Madison Avenue.
During the short pursuit, the driver of the vehicle drove on the wrong side of the road, ran stop signs, nearly hit several pedestrians and exceeded speeds of 90 mph in a construction zone near Guava Street. While speeding through the construction zone, the truck hit a steep incline in the roadway, causing it to become airborne through the intersection. The truck suffered major damage and eventually came to a stop several hundred feet north of Guava Street.
The two occupants of the vehicle, an adult male and an adult female, immediately foot bailed. The male was observed throwing items as he fled. The officer detained the suspects until backup arrived. The driver of the truck was identified as Hemet resident Alan Watne, who is on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) for vehicle theft with prior convictions, mandatory supervision probation for vehicle theft with prior convictions, and formal probation for vehicle theft with prior convictions. Watne also has an outstanding felony warrant from Arizona for vehicle theft. Watne’s extensive criminal history dates back 12 years with numerous convictions for vehicle theft, evading and narcotics related charges.
During the investigation, the officers located the items that Watne discarded: a bag containing a large amount of methamphetamine; a second bag containing additional methamphetamine and narcotics paraphernalia; and a set of keys that were altered in order to defeat vehicle ignition mechanisms and are often used to steal vehicles.
Watne was arrested for the pursuit, several narcotics related charges, possession of burglary tools and violations of his three probations, according to Murrieta police. He was not arrested on the outstanding warrant from Arizona due to limitations of extradition. The female was not charged and released. Watne was booked into the Southwest Detention Center after being checked by medical professionals due to the recent traffic collision.
It should be noted that Watne is an Assembly Bill 109 probationer. AB109, also known as Post Release Community Supervision, was signed into law in November 2011. The goal of AB109 is to reduce the California State Prison population. It allows thousands of less serious offenders to remain out of custody and on probation, while they would have previously been eligible for prison. Local communities like the Murrieta and the San Jacinto Valley have felt the devastating effects of Assembly Bill 109.
Watne was charged with: possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance for sales; transport/sell controlled substance; violation of probation; destroy/conceal evidence; evade peace officer with disregard to safety; post release community supervision violation; possession of burglary tools; prior prison enhancement charge.