Man accused of stealing medical van with patients still inside

A man accused of stealing an idling medical van in Hillcrest on Monday was arrested a short distance away while trying to drop off two elderly patients who were still inside, police said.

The driver of the American Medical Response shuttle van was stopped at Scripps Mercy Hospital to drop off one of three patients when the incident occurred about 6:20 p.m., San Diego police Sgt. Jordan Wells said.

After escorting the patient into the hospital on 5th Avenue, the driver came outside and saw the van being driven off by an unknown Latino man.

Officers sent to investigate located the van at 4th and Walnut avenues, where the suspected thief was trying to drop off the remaining patients, Wells said. The location is about five blocks away from the hospital.

The 31-year-old suspect was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of motor vehicle theft, kidnapping and driving under the influence.

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