Vehicle theft, crash cause lockdown of Alta Sierra school |

Vehicle theft, crash cause lockdown of Alta Sierra school

Nathan Gilbert

After realizing her husband’s truck had been stolen, a local woman went on her own pursuit Thursday morning.

The theft reportedly took place Wednesday before a resident on the 14000 block of Auburn Road noticed her father’s truck was missing. Because her father had been away in Los Angeles, the daughter assumed one of her father’s friends had borrowed it, Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal said.

When the truck owner’s wife was driving around town Thursday morning, she noticed a gray Dodge diesel with a white camper shell, which she recognized as their truck, pass by and then started following the vehicle, Royal said.

“We were responding at the time because we had been notified but did not arrive on the scene yet,” Royal said.

Royal identified the suspect as Nathan Gilbert, a 30-year-old “transient,” in the theft of the truck. Royal said the truck owner’s wife continued to follow Gilbert while deputies were en route. Gilbert reportedly pulled off the road in attempt to avoid a woman, eventually crashing the truck and fleeing the scene.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Justin Barnthouse, Gilbert drove the truck into a Conex box, a large metal box used for storage, which destroyed the whole front end of the vehicle. The crash took place in Grass Valley near Auburn and Kiwi roads, said California Highway Patrol Officer Earl Cummins.

Alta Sierra Elementary School prepared for a possible lockdown Thursday morning because of the incident, said Alta Sierra Principal Greg Motarjeme.

Students on the playground during recess about 9:30 a.m. were returned to their classrooms in preparation for a potential lockdown after receiving confirmation from law enforcement of a suspect on the loose around Highway 49 and Alta Sierra, said Motarjeme.

“It wasn’t an immediate threat,” Motarjeme said. “It was just to have us sit and wait for (law enforcement) to apprehend the guy.”

Motarjeme visited every classroom on campus to dispel any misinformation, he said. Shortly after, he said he received confirmation from the local School Resource Officer that there was no imminent threat and the school day returned to normal. Parents received a phone message about the incident, he said.

In March, another incident involving Gilbert caused two county schools to go on lockdown status. Gilbert had allegedly broken into a residence on the 13000 block of Empress Road while a woman was home. He was booked for second-degree burglary, a felony and a probation violation. He was held in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to the jail’s website.

After an investigation, Gilbert was actually charged by the District Attorney’s office with misdemeanor prowling and sentenced to 45 days for the incident, according to court records. The downgrade in charges was due to a lack of evidence that Gilbert actually entered the house, District Attorney Cliff Newell said in an email to The Union. Gilbert also had no weapons and there was no indication of forced entry, just persistent knocking, Newell said.

“… There was not a (burglary) here,” Newell said. “There was also no admissible evidence to support the lesser charge of an attempted (burglary) either, since there was no real attempt observed to enter the house except for his insistent knocking.”

According to The Union’s archives, Gilbert was sentenced in August 2004 to six years in prison for seven charges of burglary and one charge of bringing drugs or alcohol into a jail. The charges stemmed from several different cases against him. In a plea deal with prosecutors, several other burglary- and drug-related charges were dropped. The sentence was ordered to be held over, pending Gilbert’s completion of a state rehabilitation program.

Gilbert is described as 5 feet, 10 inches and 220 pounds with a visible tattoo on his neck, short brown hair and brown eyes.

Contact Nevada County Sheriff’s Office at 530-265-7880 with any information on Gilbert or the incident.

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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