By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
From Manteca’s crime files: ‘Pigs’ help bust pot grow grow house to bank robber that was creature of habit
stupid criminals
The reason vanity is among the Seven Deadly Sins.

If you were transporting 400 pounds of marijuana and a big stash of illegally gained cash would you rely 100 percent on Alexa or Siri to determine how to get you to your drop-off destination?

A 60-year-old man from Tustin in Southern California did.

The GPS device he used gave him the wrong directions.

As a result, he ended up in a Canadian jail.

The direction the GPS provided sent him into Canada via the Rainbow Bridge port of entry in Niagara Falls.

The guy clearly isn’t Ocean’s Eleven crew material.

Manteca over the years has had its share of criminals that clearly didn’t sweat the details.

In the same realm of transporting marijuana, a few years before cannabis was even legal for medicinal use in California, Manteca Police were conducting a state-funded checkpoint on Yosemite Avenue, just east of Powers Avenue.

The purpose was to nab those driving on a suspended license or driving under the influence.

One motorist — who could easily have turned down Powers Avenue before reaching the highly visible checkpoint without arousing suspicion — drove right into the line of cones.

Perhaps it was because he was not under the influence,  had no vehicle safety issues, and had a driver’s license.

Whatever the case the officer checking his license smelled a familiar scent.

He asked the driver if he could search his Chevy Suburban.

The driver consented.

In the back — without the aid of a drug sniffing dog  or even having to lift a cover — there were nearly two dozen small marijuana plants.

While that may have been a lack of quick thinking, another incident underscores the fact some criminals just don’t think things out thoroughly to begin with.

Right after the dawn of this century, a gang member decided to do a drive-by shooting.

It happened on a Manteca  street in broad daylight.

But that wasn’t the brazen stupid move.

The guy had no car.

So he called Red Top Taxi.

Not only was there a witness to the crime, but he didn’t hit his intended victim.

That taxi ride put him away for more than 20 years.

Another criminal was more methodical although he didn’t quite think things all the way through.

It was back in 1990 when Stockton Savings was on the northwest corner of Main and Center streets in downtown Manteca.

The man walked into Stockton Savings and produced a note demanding money.

After he fled and the police were alerted, officers do what they normally do — they locked down the bank while they processed the crime scene and interviewed witnesses.

The teller who was robbed didn’t have much else to do so she went to the breakroom.

There she picked up a copy of that day’s Bulletin that was on the table.

Did I mention 1990 was a Manteca City Council election year?

On the front page was a story with a photo profiling one of the candidates — a man who the teller told police looked like exactly like the guy that had just robbed her.

So after running his name and finding his address, they paid him a visit.

Not only did they find crumpled up paper with typed robbery notes that didn’t quite say what he wanted  to say, but the ribbon was still intact in the typewriter that had the wording of the actual note used imprinted on the ribbon.

That was bad enough.

But then his public defender argued in court that the San Joaquín County District Attorney’s office was pursuing a “political prosecution.”

The judge wasn’t amused.

The No.2 runner-up in bizarre bank robbery category goes back to the late 1990s.

The Union Bank branch inside Save Mart was robbed on a Friday at 10 a.m.

A week later, the same branch was robbed by the same man on Friday at 10 a.m.

Manteca Police publicly said they weren’t expecting the guy to try it again.

Then, a week after the second bank robbery, the guy proved the third time was a charm — for detectives.

Yes, he robbed the same bank on the same day of the week at the same time for the third week in a row.

This time, plainclothes officers were waiting for him  when  he exited.

It was the Tracy man’s last trip to Manteca for a while.

Third on the list of bizarre bank robberies in Manteca is a lesson in why one should “case” a bank — or — or at least do basic research  — before robbing it.

Chase had just opened its second Manteca branch in Spreckels Marketplace anchored by Food-4-Less 22 years ago. The new branch had all of the “cutting edge” banking whistles and bells.

Imagine the surprise of the armed bank robber who discovered that the bank only dispenses cash through an ATM inside the lobby.

Not only that, but as he was fleeing, bank employees were able to lock him between two sets of doors.

It saved the police having to chase after him.

My favorite dumb criminal story happened on Manteca’s western edge on McKinley Avenue  near the wastewater treatment plant some 24 years ago.

The law enforcement agency involved was the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department.

A deputy was heading out to patrol the Wetherbee Lake area when he came across a bunch of pigs in the road.

He saw a broken fence and a nearby pig pen.

The deputy walked up to the door of the house and knocked on it.

Getting no response, he stepped back a bit and looked into the large front room picture window.

There — basking in the sunlight — were a number of mature marijuana plants.

The pigs helped bust the grow house as their escape and posing  traffic hazard gave the deputy “probable cause” to be on the property.

The odds are the operator of the marijuana grow house is probably one of the few ever busted by pigs.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at