On Sept. 11 around 10:15 p.m., The Lodi Police Department received a report of a stolen 2016 Chevrolet Malibu. The Chevrolet was stolen from a residence in the City of Lodi.
According to a press release, at approximately 11:52 p.m., a City of Lodi Police Officer and Columbia County Sheriff’s Deputy spotted the stolen vehicle coming into Lodi. Law enforcement then attempted to stop the stolen vehicle.
The driver of the stolen vehicle refused to stop and a slow speed pursuit ensued. A third Columbia County Sheriff’s Deputy joined in the pursuit. The pursuit left the City of Lodi but speeds remained slow.
The vehicle was equipped with OnStar and law enforcement contacted OnStar for assistance. As OnStar was reducing the vehicle speed the driver exited the vehicle and fled. The vehicle continued, entering a ditch on County Highway J east of Van Ness Road. The pursuit covered a distance of approximately five miles.
Law enforcement identified the driver from past contact as Aaron J. Kotzer, 30, of Lodi.
Kotzer remained at large until he was again located and taken into custody by the Lodi Police Department and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at 10:33 a.m. Kotzer was located in the area near the traffic stop he had fled from.
Kotzer was arrested for operating a motor vehicle without consent, operating after revocation (criminal), resisting and obstructing law enforcement, eluding a law officer, two counts of felony bail jumping and theft of a financial card stemming from an incident in the Town of Lodi early in the evening of Sept. 11. Kotzer was also arrested on a department of corrections warrant.
According to a release from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, they have been receiving reports of thefts from unlocked vehicles as well as residences being entered by the use of garage door openers located in the unlocked vehicles. Many of these incidents are taking place in the south west portion of the county to include Arlington, Lodi, Okee, Harmony Grove and other rural areas.
Residents are urged to remove any valuables from their vehicles and lock all doors and windows. All door keys and especially garage doors should be removed from the vehicles. Household doors and windows should also be secured.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is looking for assistance from the public. If the public sees anything suspicious that may be related to the thefts and burglaries, please call 608-742-4166. Witnesses can remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers at 800-293-8477.