Man arrested on suspicion of stealing Palm Springs police chief’s patrol unit, impersonating cop

By in Press Enterprise on January 5, 2018

By City News Service

INDIO — A body shop worker was arrested Thursday on suspicion of stealing Palm Springs police Chief Bryan Reyes’ patrol vehicle from the Cathedral City shop where the suspect worked and using the SUV to try to pull over a motorist.

William Leon Menser, 26, of Indio, is accused of taking the vehicle in November while it was undergoing body work repair at Rembrandt’s Paint and Body.

After allegedly stealing the SUV, Menser attempted a traffic stop on a man in Cathedral City, according to an arrest warrant declaration.

Menser, who worked as an “estimator/manager” at the body shop, allegedly told investigators that he took the unit home because he noticed the rear sensors were malfunctioning and had planned to drive the SUV to a Ford dealer “first thing the next morning,” but was able to fix the issue himself using his scanner tool. He later took the SUV to a car wash and a gas station, where he said he filled it up with $10 worth of gas, according to the declaration.

He also allegedly admitted using the SUV’s emergency lights to slow a driver who was speeding.

Menser was arrested near Monroe Street and Interstate 10 in Indio, one day after prosecutors charged with him with a felony count of embezzlement and a misdemeanor count of impersonating a police officer.

He’s being held at the Riverside County jail in Indio in lieu of $100,000 bail and is expected to make his initial court appearance on Monday.

It’s not the first time that Menser has been accused of stealing a police vehicle, according to prosecutors. In 2014, Menser and a co-defendant were arrested for stealing a Glendale Police Department vehicle from the Orange County Sheriff’s Academy. He pleaded guilty later that year to car theft, grand theft auto and receiving stolen property.

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