Man charged with stealing small airplane that crashed on a California beach

Feb 9, 2024, 12:41 AM

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — Police in California arrested a man for allegedly stealing a small aircraft before crashing onto a beach and leaving the scene on Thursday.

Deputies received a report of a small airplane landing “near or on a beach” in Half Moon Bay around 5 p.m., the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Police said officers found the aircraft, intact but unoccupied, on the sand south of Poplar Beach, which is about 30 miles (48.2 kilometers) south of San Francisco.

A photo posted on social media by the sheriff’s office showed a plane with striped wings tilted forward with its nose in the tan sand and tail pointed skyward.

Deputies located a man matching the description of a person seen landing the plane and walking away, police said.

Luiz Gustavo Aires, 50, of Miami was charged with theft of an airplane and booked into the Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City.

The airplane is believed to have been stolen from an airport in Palo Alto, California, about 24 miles (38.6 kilometers) by road from the crash site, police said.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft with the Palo Alto Police Department.

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Man charged with stealing small airplane that crashed on a California beach