AUSTIN (KXAN) — A tow truck driver arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest was later charged with theft of a firearm after police linked him to gun that was reported stolen in April 2013, according to an arrest affidavit.
John Manuel Benitez, 36, was arrested March 7 after the J&J Towing truck he was driving struck several parked cars before coming to a stop against a building at 8801 Research Boulevard, the document said.
A witness to the crash noticed a bag that had fallen from the truck. Inside of the bag was a gun, the warrant said.
During questioning, Benitez told police he kept the gun for protection due to a past incident where he was attacked while repossessing a car.
Further investigation showed the gun was listed as stolen. The owner of the gun told police her car was towed from the Villas on Guadalupe, 2810 Guadalupe St., on April 13, 2013, during a trip to Austin to visit her daughter.
When she went to retrieve her vehicle, she told officers her Smith & Wesson .38 Special and an iPad were missing.
An invoice from J&J Towing showed Benitez was the driver who towed away the vehicle that night, police said.
Authorities say Benitez likely used tools from a “lockout kit” to access the GMC Yukon and steal the gun before relocking the doors to the vehicle, the warrant said.
Theft of a firearm is a state jail felony. Benitez’s bond was set at $15,000.