A 31-year-old transient woman pleaded guilty this week to receiving stolen property in connection with in an incident late last month in which she jumped into an idling rental car outside the Holiday Inn Express in Tam Valley, only to return to the hotel in the car four days later while police were there investigating the theft.
Katherine Gallagher, 31, pleaded guilty at a hearing Thursday and is due back in court May 15. A related charge of unlawful taking or driving of a vehicle, distinct from grand theft auto and often known as "joyriding," was dismissed.
The charged stemmed from a Feb. 21 incident in which a guest at the Holiday Inn Express at 160 Shoreline Highway ran into the hotel's lobby to get a receipt from a front desk attendant, leaving his rental car, a 2012 Toyota Corolla, idling outside in the parking lot. When he came back out, the rental car was gone.
California Highway Patrol officers were called to hotel where they took the information and filed a stolen vehicle report.
On Feb. 25, around 5 p.m., hotel staff contacted police believing they might know who had stolen the car – a known transient woman who was in the area around the time the car was stolen – according to CHP Officer Andrew Barclay.
“She’s kind of like a squatter,” Barclay said, noting that Gallagher was known to hotel staff to sneak into hotel rooms while cleaning staff were straightening up and tell them not to bother cleaning the room. Then she would stay until she was discovered.
As officers left the hotel after meeting with staff on Feb. 25, the woman drove up in the stolen car, a silver 2012 Toyota Corolla, Barclay said. The officers positioned their vehicles so the suspect couldn’t drive away, then questioned her and arrested her.
The vehicle was returned to the rental company and the personal property of the victim was returned to him.
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