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Homeless lady suspected in restroom arson
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Jessica Marie Utley — a 37-year-old homeless woman — was charged with arson and two outstanding warrants by Ripon Police after she allegedly started a fire in the restroom Wednesday afternoon at Burns Truck and Trailer Co. in the 1400 block of West Santos Avenue.

Ripon Police Lt. Steve Merchant said Utley had two outstanding warrants for commercial burglary and driving under the influence.

Merchant added that he was told that, when she was confronted by the office staff, she cursed at the employees and fled the building on foot.  An employee from the trucking firm chased after her, he said.

Responding Ripon officers located the woman in the Jimco Truck Stop parking lot where she ran from police arriving on the scene.  She was located hiding underneath a trailer and was taken into custody without incident.

Merchant said the woman was found to have a felony arrest warrant from the Stockton Police Department regarding a commercial burglary as well as a misdemeanor warrant for the DUI.  He added that the business sustained minor damage from the fire.   

She is being held in the San Joaquin County Jail in lieu of $85,000 bail with a court appearance set for today at 1:25 p.m. at the Manteca Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court.

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Ripon pursuit suspect crashes in Escalon

A high speed pursuit that began in Ripon ended in Escalon Wednesday night with the suspect crashing into a brick pillar after losing control of the vehicle as it entered that community.

Lt. Steve Merchant said the 19-year-old suspect was detained and transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  The pursuit began shortly before midnight near the intersection of Jack Tone Road and West Santos Avenue, just north of Highway 99.  

Merchant said the motorist led officers on the chase up to Highway 120 “with wanton disregard for the safety of the motoring public” as he headed east toward Escalon.  Ripon officers with the assistance of Escalon Police immediately detained the felony suspect after the crash. 

Ripon detectives will be forwarding felony charges against the driver to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office for review, Merchant said.

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Wednesday morning pursuit up Highway 99

An early morning police pursuit was initiated by Ripon officers at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday when they located a 2013 silver, Toyota Tacoma pickup, with license plates, on the truck  reportedly stolen out of Pleasanton.

Officers attempted to stop the car near Ruess Road and Stanley Drive with the suspect speeding away on city streets and eventually entering northbound Highway 99.  Lt. Steve Merchant said the suspect vehicle was driven recklessly in heavy traffic fleeing pursuing officers and endangering the commuting motorists.

Due to concerns for the safety of other motorists in heavy traffic conditions, the pursuit was called off near Arch Road by the Stockton Airport. Ripon detectives are currently working with allied agencies to locate the stolen vehicle, he said, urging area residents to keep an eye out for a vehicle with the license of 05562L1.

Merchant added that due to recent residential burglaries that have occurred in the last several months, citizens are being urged to immediately contact the police department if they notice any suspicious activity occurring in their neighborhoods.