Mental health and drug and alcohol issues are plaguing Dimitri Storm, the man who has eluded law enforcement from Big Sur up to Sonoma County over the last month.
At a press conference in Felton on Thursday, Santa Cruz Sheriff's Chief Deputy Jim Hart said that Dimitri Storm, the man who has been stealing cars and license plates and threatened to kill two CHP officers, "believes he is a police officer."
Storm's family has told local law enforcement that he has struggled with mental health issues.
The fugitive, originally from the San Lorenzo Valley, has returned to the area repeatedly during the course of his series of crimes. But he has also stolen cars, broken into cars and committed other crimes in Santa Clara, Monterey, Marin and Sonoma counties.
Although he has ties to Santa Cruz County, Hart said it doesn't appear there is anyone in the area helping him when he returns to the San Lorenzo Valley.
"He travels alone. He's a loner. We don't have a residence to tie him to," Hart said. "He doesn't appear to have friends or a girlfriend, so there's nowhere for us to find him."
Deputy April Skalland said Storm also is estranged from his family. There is no reason to believe they are secretly aiding his criminal activity.
"I spoke with his mom and visited her house," Skalland said. "There are no signs of him there. She has been very forthcoming and helpful. The family calls me a couple times a week."
Storm has not physically hurt anyone over the last month, but he did threaten a group of people in the Summit area with a gun a couple of weeks ago, Hart said.
His crimes are generally limited to the theft and burglary of vehicles. He has stolen 10 cars, broken into 40, and taken an unknown amount of license plates, which he uses to disguise stolen cars, Hart said. Storm also seems to have a preference for SUVs.
Hart called Storm's actions "crimes of opportunity." He is only stealing cars with keys left inside. He is not hot wiring cars and taking them without keys.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, CHP and agencies in other counties are all on high alert for Storm. Anyone who reports seeing Storm or even just suspicious activity in their neighborhood should see response from police within minutes, Hart said, stressing that civilians not make contact with the fugitive.
Storm is thought to likely be in the San Lorenzo Valley, Summit or Soquel Hills area.
"He's definitely a priority," Hart said. "We have a team of detectives working full times on the case. Really, it's going to take help from the public. The public is going to be the eyes and ears on this."
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