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Burglar caught cutting through stations roof
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A floor mounted safe at JK Automotive Repair in the 700 block of East Yosemite Avenue was pried open by burglars over the weekend. It was the second time the shop has been vandalized in three weeks time. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Two East Yosemite Avenue businesses within two blocks of each other were broken into over the weekend with officers capturing one suspect on the Valero gas station roof east of Powers Avenue they say was cutting his way into the building.

JK Automotive Repair at 710 East Yosemite Avenue had been burglarized some three weeks ago when an unknown suspect cut his way through the building’s roof and made off with countless mechanics’ tools.

The repair shop reportedly had its glass front door shattered sometime Friday night or early Saturday morning.  Owner Dave Garza said the responsibles had carried heavy $30,000 worth of equipment outside a rear service door, but apparently were spooked and fled.  A 55-gallon oil drum had been filled with smaller hand tools that had also been left behind.

Officers credited a passerby in the capture of a man he witnessed on the service station roof about 3:30 a.m. Sunday.  Canine Officer Bill Mueller and Mark Rangel responded and ordered the man off the roof with the assistance of the officer’s police dog.

Manteca Police spokesman Jason Hensley said the fire department was called for the use of one of their ladders to check out the roof where the suspect had been interrupted.  A small hole was found cut into the roof along with burglary tools and some drugs, the officer said.

James Lee Odell, 28, a Ripon transient, was charged with attempted burglary, possession of burglary tools and possession of controlled substances.  He was transported to San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp where he is being held in lieu of some $61,500.  His court date is set for Sept. 19 at 8:30 a.m. in the Manteca Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court.

The JK Automotive Repair shop burglary in mid-August was one of many night time robberies that hit other vehicle repair and tire shops throughout Manteca.

Evidence that was recovered from the weekend burglaries has been sent to the detective division to investigate and determine if the current suspect could be responsible.  Hensley noted that the method of operation (MO) was strikingly similar between this week’s cases and those in August.

In the JK burglary, the heavy stationary equipment had been carried outside the building with some weighing as much as 500 pounds – giving credence that there was more than one suspect at work.

Owner Dave Garza said his floor safe was pried open by the burglars who he said had to work long and hard to finally spring one of its hinges – finding nothing inside.  It had been bolted to the concrete floor.

Garza added that his office computer and screen were shattered and all the drawers in the work bays and the office were dumped on the floor.