Courtesy of the Monterey Police Department The three burglary suspects as seen in video surveillance footage

Law enforcement officials from two counties are looking for a trio of suspected thieves who allegedly stole $30,000 worth of sunglasses from a Monterey store on Thursday, and later led police on a chase that ended in a crash on Highway 1 that snarled traffic for several hours.

According to the Monterey Police Department, officers responded to a report of an organized retail theft in progress at the  Sunglass Hat at 750 Cannery Row at 3:57pm.

Employees reported three suspects entered the store wearing masks and stole dozens of pairs of sunglasses, then fled on foot. 

Investigators viewed security footage and saw a silver Chrysler 300 sedan speeding away and driving recklessly just after the crime was committed.  

After a be-on-the-lookout was broadcast, neighboring jurisdictions notified MPD that a similar vehicle was captured on an Automated License Plate Reader camera shortly after the crime.

At 4:31pm, neighboring jurisdictions again notified MPD the suspect vehicle was seen traveling on General Jim Moore Boulevard.  

Officers from the CSU Monterey Bay and Marina police departments located the vehicle and performed a traffic stop in the 3000 block of Del Monte Avenue in Marina.  

The vehicle stopped, and the driver, identified as 22-year-old Shawn Morita of Hayward was arrested.

When officers tried to detain the other occupants in the vehicle, one of them entered the driver’s seat and fled in the vehicle.  

As officers chased the vehicle to Reservation Road and Highway 1 north, one of the occupants threw out a bag of sunglasses that was later recovered.  

Morita was charged with burglary, organized retail theft and conspiracy. He was booked into Monterey County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail.

At 4:53 P.M., California Highway Patrol officers responded to a multi-vehicle hit-and-run collision on Highway 1 South at State Park Drive.  

Officers located the suspect vehicle, and determined it had rear-ended another vehicle, causing the car to collide with another car in front of it.  

Parties in both vehicles were injured. Witnesses said that three subjects fled the suspect vehicle on foot. They were not located.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. Greg Galin at 646. 3872, or anonymously at 646.3840.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.



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