A Glendale police patrol car was found abandoned early Friday in Garden Grove after it was stolen from the Orange County Sheriff’s training academy, officials said.

A Garden Grove police officer heard a bulletin about the missing patrol car and spotted it at 5:30 a.m. in the residential neighborhood of Sungrove Street and Aspenwood Lane — roughly nine miles away from the academy in Tustin, according to the Garden Grove police spokesman Lt. Ben Stauffer.

But the patrol car was only discovered stolen after a caller notified authorities that a Glendale police vehicle was spotted about 1:30 a.m. driving erratically on the freeway, Tustin police Lt. John Strain said.

That prompted Tustin police officers to check the sheriff’s academy, where they noticed the patrol car was missing.

While no other police vehicles were damaged or stolen, Strain said “there is no reason for us to believe they have a vendetta against Glendale police.”

He added that investigators don’t know why the Glendale patrol car was selected over the other police vehicles.

Tustin police believe someone scaled the academy’s fence to reach the parked police vehicles.

The alleged thief reportedly entered the Glendale patrol car and drove out of the academy’s main gate, which opens automatically.

Once investigators realized Glendale’s patrol car was stolen, they alerted nearby police agencies to look out for it.

The patrol car was returned to Glendale police Friday afternoon, but it appeared to be missing its light bar, which is usually attached to the roof, Glendale Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

The car was assigned to the academy because that’s where Glendale police cadets train, he said.

The regional training academy, which is also operated by Santa Ana College, serves law enforcement agencies from Orange County and the Los Angeles region, sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Jeff Hallock said.

While the sheriff’s department is responsible for the facility’s safety, he said personnel and college representatives will talk about reviewing its security to determine if changes are needed due to the break-in.

He added that sheriff’s deputies are working with Tustin police during the investigation.

Glendale’s forensic investigators also plan to examine the patrol car for evidence.

Anyone with details about the theft is asked to call Tustin Police Det. Eric Haug at (714) 573-3246.

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Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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