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2 women charged in Johnson City car theft investigation

Johnson City Press • Updated Dec 7, 2017 at 8:21 PM

Two Johnson City women were arrested Thursday on charges related to vehicle thefts in November.

Laura A. Watts, 28, 1800 W. Lakeview Drive, and Savannah Willen, 18, 133 Wichita St., were both involved in one case, while Watts also was charged in a second, police said in a news release.

A 2003 Ford Explorer was reported stolen Nov. 12 from the Boones Creek area, police said. Over the next several weeks, police saw the SUV in various locations throughout the city, but the occupants were able to elude them and avoid capture. The vehicle and its license plate had been altered in attempts to conceal the fact it was stolen.

Investigators identified Watts as a suspect, and on Wednesday, she was taken into custody for an unrelated investigation. Police said they interviewed Watts and she admitted she had driven the stolen Explorer and evaded police, but she claimed she didn’t know where the SUV was at the time and did not know who had it.

Early Thursday morning, police saw the stolen SUV near Wichita Street and attempted a traffic stop. The driver, Willen, tried to run away but was quickly arrested. A male passenger also ran from the Explorer.

In that case, Watts was charged with evading arrest, driving on a revoked license, failure to maintain financial responsibility, reckless driving, and possession of stolen property over $1,000. Willen was charged with simple possession, evading arrest, no/expired driver’s license, reckless endangerment, and receiving/possessing stolen property.

Police also charged Watts with a second vehicle theft. On Nov. 19, the owner of a 2007 Saturn Ion reported the car was taken without her permission. Watts was charged with motor vehicle theft over $1,000 in that case.

Both women were held in the Washington County Detention Center with Sessions Court appearances set for later Thursday.

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