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Attempted kidnapping or Good Samaritan?
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Manteca business owner Francene Escobar learned a good lesson that no good turn ever goes unpunished for trying to help a young 15-year-old girl who she thought was stranded near the northbound I-5 off ramp at Lathrop Road Monday at 5:15 p.m.
Escobar is known for helping kids she sees on the streets and donating to Manteca’s charities as a past member of Rotary and Soroptimist clubs.  She is the owner of Kwiki Kleen Car Wash and service station in the 700 block of East Yosemite Avenue and is charged with the washing of the Lathrop Police cars.
She said she stopped next to the girl and offered her a ride home.  When she declined her coaxing, she tried to give the teen her cell phone to call her parents.  She said the teen was crying when she pulled up next to her.  As the girl backed away from her car, Escobar said she left and headed home.
A retired police officer had witnessed the exchange and made a 911 call to report what he saw as an attempted kidnapping.  Two deputies were waiting for Escobar when she arrived home.  They handcuffed her and took her to county jail with a stop at county hospital because of a spike in her blood pressure.  A doctor there reportedly told her she could have died in the process.
The Lathrop Police Department has a different story reporting Escobar stopping under the freeway overpass on Lathrop Road.  She was driving a white Buick SUV where she allegedly approached a 15-year-old girl and attempted to verbally coax her into vehicle.
Deputies noted that she continually asked her if she wanted a ride using arm motions and the girl declined.  When she told the girl to get into the car the teen backed away.  The retired officer said he noticed the girl appeared distraught.  He then pulled alongside her and told her to go to the gas station at Lathrop and Harlan roads.
The former officer then followed Escobar eastbound on Lathrop Road to get a license plate number.  He discontinued his pursuit at Union Road and Main Street and called the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident.  She said she was enroute to her car wash business.
The girl said she had never met Escobar and that there was no relationship between the two of them.
Escobar was jailed at San Joaquin County Jail with a court date set for this coming Friday in the Manteca Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court. Her bail had been set at $50,000 but was reduced to $4,000 when her husband bailed her out. Escobar said Wednesday that she has picked up a number of kids in the past walking home from school – knowing how far they had to walk – just because she felt it was the right thing to do at the time.