(Watsonville Police Chief David Honda (left) and California Highway Patrol Sgt. Ryan Monohan (right) are present Thursday to congratulate Watsonville Police Officer Alex Zamora for earning an award for his efforts in tracking down 12 stolen cars in a five-month block. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
WATSONVILLE — Watsonville Police Officer Alex Zamora received an award Thursday for recovering 12 stolen cars, three of which were occupied.
The California Highway Patrol 10851 award — named after the police code for stolen vehicle — goes to law enforcement personnel who recover a certain number of cars, trucks and other motorized conveyances within a year.
What made Zamora’s accomplishment somewhat more impressive is that he made the recoveries in five months, said CHP Sgt. Ryan Monohan.
Monohan estimated the value of recovered vehicles at $50,000.
“That’s at least 12 people who are now able to get to work,” Monohan said.
WPD Chief David Honda said that about 175 were reported missing last year in California, with an estimated value of $1.3 billion.
Zamora said that he and his fellow officers receive a list of stolen vehicles during the briefing at the start of their shift.
From there, they must memorize the descriptions enough so that they can snag them while on patrol, he said.
“It’s not easy,” Zamora said. “You really have to look for them.”
Zamora, who graduated from Watsonville High School in 2004, has been at WPD for about a year. He also spent one year with Gilroy Police Department and six with Salinas Police Department, to which he will soon return.
The 10851 award was Zamora’s second, he said.
While Zamora’s feat represents a small percentage of that total, it still helps take a bite out of an insidious problem. Honda said.
“It’s thanks to the efforts of officers like Alex,” he said.