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St. Mary’s sheriff’s deputies charged a 31-year-old man on Wednesday with a theft offense and traffic infractions, including driving under the influence, following the brief disappearance of a police cruiser parked at a home in California.

Christopher Lee Cotsford, of no fixed address, was charged with unlawfully taking the vehicle, which the law officers allege occurred at a Shady Mile Drive residence where they had found the suspect on the property.

Cotsford complied with a police order that he leave the property, the sheriff’s office reports, and he was walking toward Route 235 when the homeowner directed the law officers to check the area of a shed outside a nearby foreclosed house. They went there, returned to discover that the marked patrol car was gone, and soon located it in the area of Old Rolling Road.

Cotsford was arrested and taken to the county jail to await a bond hearing before a court commissioner on the charges filed by sheriff’s deputy David Potter.

jwharton@somdnews.com