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Hemet man jailed for stealing cars, extortion

February 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Imagine your vehicle being stolen, then you get a phone call from the thief asking for money in exchange for your car. An Inland Empire man is now behind bars, accused of doing just that. He faces some serious charges including extortion.Sunday night, 20-year-old Dnico Hooks of Hemet was arrested.

Police say that Hooks was so persistent and so brazen that it actually led to his own arrest.

"When I read the press release, I came to work the following day, and it was something to laugh at," said Eddie Pust of Hemet police.

Police say it started over the weekend when Hooks stole a 2004 silver Chrysler Sebring.

Hooks then called the owner of the vehicle and told him to meet him at a Wal-Mart parking lot, where he would return the stolen car in exchange for $300 in cash.

"We had officers that conducted surveillance around the Wal-Mart. The suspect did not show up, and we left the location," said Pust.

However, the next day, police say the suspect called again and offered to set up the same extortion deal for the second time.

"At that time, the officers moved in on the suspect where he took off and fled southbound from the Wal-Mart to a housing tract in the nearby community," described Pust.

The suspect hopped fences and ran through backyards. He was finally located by a K-9 unit, crouched in a gutter. Police also recovered the vehicle.

"How often do you see something like this, extortion for a vehicle? Not that often, not for a vehicle," said Pust.

This isn't the first time Hemet police have dealt with Hooks. Another K-9 unit apprehended the same suspect, outside the same Wal-Mart, two weeks ago.

Police say that apprehension was because he pulled out a gun in public.

Hooks was released back then, but he is behind bars now, and this time, he faces charges for vehicle theft, possession of stolen property and extortion.