By Karl Moffatt
Las Vegas Optic
The high price of gas seems to be driving some people to extremes these days.
Take the case of 29-year-old Michael Maestas of Las Vegas whose week-long crime spree included the alleged mugging of a man at a local fast food restaurant for his sneakers and cell phone, the theft of a big screen TV from a neighbor’s house and a police chase while driving a stolen pickup truck.
And it was all apparently to fuel up an old, gas guzzling pickup truck that Maestas drove.
Maestas, of the 2800 block of Louden in Las Vegas, is currently being held in the San Miguel County Detention Center on numerous charges stemming from the cases in addition to a probation violation from a recent conviction, according to jail and court records.
“He has really been wreaking some havoc in the community,” said Las Vegas Police Chief Christian Montaño. “So we’re happy to have him behind bars.”
According to court records, Maestas’ crime spree began on March 11 when he stopped to visit his sister while she worked the evening shift at a Seventh Street fast-food restaurant.
He asked his sister for money, although the court documents don’t specify whether she gave him any.
Another man who had been visiting Maestas’ sister at the restaurant at the same time was attempting to leave when Maestas allegedly accosted him and threatened to beat the man up if he didn’t give up his Jordan shoes and i-Phone.
Maestas then fled with the man’s goods in an old, black, truck while the victim later told investigating police officers that he thought his mugger was armed with a handgun because he kept sticking his hand into his pants’ waistband while yelling obscenities at him. The victim described his mugger as having a teardrop tattoo on his face and later identified Maestas from a police photo lineup.
Police found the vehicle thought to have been used in the robbery parked behind the public housing unit on Louden, where Maestas’ mother lives, but Maestas couldn’t be located at the time.
On March 14 police received a report that Maestas had sought gas money from an elderly neighbor at the same public housing area on Louden, and when he was told there was none to be had, he instead grabbed a 32-inch flat screen television from the woman’s living room.
Maestas then reportedly fled with the TV in an older model, black, extended cab, pickup, which was later spotted by police cruising down Railroad Avenue.
The driver was identified by the pursuing police as Maestas. He allegedly refused to pull over before turning into an alleyway where he dumped the truck and fled on foot.
Maestas escaped across the railroad tracks, but police recovered the stolen television and impounded his truck.
That same evening another Las Vegas police officer spotted a purple Ford Ranger on Railroad Avenue that had just been reported stolen from a nearby home where the owner had left the vehicle running and unattended in the driveway, according to court records. The officer pursued the stolen truck.
The driver refused to pull over and instead ran through several stop signs before wrecking into a pole near Farmway Feed. The driver then climbed out of the vehicle through the passenger side window and took off on foot only to be caught a short time later by pursuing officers.
Police then identified the driver of the stolen vehicle as Maestas, and he was taken to jail.
He was arraigned on Monday by Magistrate Philip Romero. During his arraignment, Maestas told the judge he was unemployed and living with his mom at the time. Bond was set at $7,000 cash only, while a hold for a probation violation also remains in effect.
Online court records for a Michael Maestas with the same date of birth as this defendant show that he received a conditional discharge on a burglary and aggravated battery charge from then-District Judge Eugenio Mathis in June of 2011.
Online State Corrections Department records show a mug shot of Maestas and state he is on probation for the same case. Other court records for the same individual show prior arrests for drug possession.
Maestas is expected to remain behind bars pending a probation violation and other court hearings.