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Police bust father-son auto burglary team

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Police bust father-son auto burglary team

Detectives Bryan Holland and Rob Armasino question Sergio Ruiz, 43, after taking him into custody in the Mervyn's parking lot on South Main Street. He and his dad Antonio were arrested on suspicio...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED January 17, 2009 3:17 a.m.
A suspected father and son auto burglary team were arrested by Manteca Police officers that were backed up by the SWAT team in the Mervyn’s Department Store parking lot at 1 p.m. on Friday.

Police have been searching Manteca streets for weeks for a green 1997 Ford-150 pickup truck that had been caught on video tape during burglaries from Bass Pro Shops to Home Depot, as well as in other large shopping centers. They were also believed to have been in Stockton and Lodi areas burglarizing vehicles in parking lots.

Arrested as they were pulling out of the department store parking lot onto Mission Ridge Drive were Sergio Anthony Ruiz, 20, and Antonio Ruiz, 43.  They were charged with possession of stolen property, disposing of stolen property and the senior Ruiz was cited for driving on a suspended license.

The men had power tools — a nail gun, cordless drill and miscellaneous tools — stolen in Lodi Friday morning, police said.   They listed their occupations as construction workers.

Police spokesman Rex Osborn said the truck was first spotted driving westbound on Industrial Park Drive passing the old Qualex building where SWAT team officers were involved in training.

Patrol officer Zach Faye caught sight of the beat up pickup truck that he knew matched the description of the suspect vehicle in the auto burglaries.  Officer Victor Vincent jumped into his private car and started following the truck while he called for a marked unit to catch up with him.

Other officers were across the street having lunch at a sandwich shop and ran to back up the patrol officers.   

Members of the in-training SWAT team jumped into their van and headed west toward the Mervyn’s parking lot where the truck had been stopped by officers Rudy Becerra and William Walmer.  

Officer Adam McCallon and his field training officer Richard Smigelski were the first to reach the scene from across the street leaving their lunches behind, police said.  It was just a coincidence that so many officers were in the area when the two men were located.

Osborn credited community service officer Crystal Vicente for developing a profile on the pair that she drew from the auto burglaries in the area.  That profile was given to all patrol officers who were asked to be on the look out for the suspected burglars — wearing orange safety vests and driving that green pickup.

It was those vests, usually worn by employees returning carts in shopping centers and by landscape workers, that made them less suspicious to the general public and gave them cover, officers said.

They would drive around parking lots and look into the backs of trucks for power equipment they could take.  One video from the Bass Pro Shops reportedly showed the pair — with their Ford-150 pickup truck — going through the metal boxes of a utility truck, police said.    

Osborn said the two men are being charged with some eight auto burglaries in Manteca in addition to possible additional charges in Stockton and Lodi. 
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