Couple track down their stolen SUV and police make arrest

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It took them 4 years, but the owners of this 1989 Chevy Blazer managed to track it down and help police arrest a suspect By Mike Gertzman It took them 4 years, but the owners of this 1989 Chevy Blazer managed to track it down and help police arrest a suspect By Mike Gertzman
Phoenix Police recently arrested 31-year-old Anthony Pena after they recovered a Chevrolet Blazer 4 years after it was stolen from a Valley family By Mike Gertzman Phoenix Police recently arrested 31-year-old Anthony Pena after they recovered a Chevrolet Blazer 4 years after it was stolen from a Valley family By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- It's an oldie, but to its owners this 1989 Chevy Blazer is a goodie.

“It grew up with the kids, going to softball practices, going camping,” Becky Mendonca said.

Now added to those good memories are some bad ones.

“We stopped at a Walgreens to get a drink," Mendonca said. "When we came out it was gone. We were only in there for five minutes,”

It's been four years since Mendonca’s blue and white Blazer went missing.

The owners never gave up looking for it. After all, the SUV was a part of the family.

“It's just been our love, our vehicle, the only brand-new vehicle we've ever bought,” Mendonca said.

This past December Mendonca was scanning the roads as she's always done when she spotted something.

“I saw it on the freeway. I knew it was ours. I just knew it was ours,” Mendonca said.

She wrote down the license plate, but the Phoenix Police Department couldn't find a match.

“I wrote the license plate number down wrong,” she said.

Her husband, John, went searching the same area where his wife spotted their Chevy but came up empty.

Later that week the couple went looking again and got lucky.

“There's a blemish on the topper that was there when we bought the truck new and I saw it and made a positive ID. I told my wife call 911 now,” John said.

He then followed their SUV to an apartment complex in Phoenix.

“From what the police told us they took a VIN from a vehicle they owned and changed it and put it in our vehicle,” John said.

Anthony Pena, 31, now sits in the Maricopa County Jail facing felony theft and chop shop charges.

The SUV now sits right where it's supposed to.

“We’re just tickled to have it back. It stays locked up in the garage and makes me nervous to have it out,” John said.

The couple says it will cost them $15,000 to restore their SUV to the way it looked and ran four years ago.