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Sharp Rise In City Crime Rate
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From broken doors to missing coins, vehicle vandalism to a drunk big rig driver, Escalon Police have been dealing with a spike in the crime rate over the past week.

Things started to turn sour on Wednesday evening, Aug. 22 when officers on patrol observed a big rig strike a railroad crossing arm and break it off on McHenry Avenue south of Highway 120. The incident occurred shortly before 9:30 p.m. and, after making contact with the driver of the Freightliner, officers determined he was driving under the influence of alcohol. The 45-year-old Lodi man was subsequently arrested on suspicion of hit and run with property damage, driving under the influence, possession of a hypodermic needle and possession of an open container. He was booked at San Joaquin County Jail and the big rig was towed from the scene.

"Shortly after that, officers got a call of a disturbance, a male and female fighting," Escalon Police Chief Doug Dunford explained.

That call, in the 1500 block of Main, resulted in the arrest of Shane Schmidt, 32, of Farmington on suspicion of felony domestic violence, a parole violation and possession of paraphernalia. Police said when they arrived on the scene, they found a woman with bruises at the location and she asked that charges be filed. Schmidt had blood on him, though it was later determined to be his own blood, and Dunford said officers also noticed several neatly stacked piles of change all around the room, with quarters, nickels and dimes all separated.

"He went to jail, an hour or so later we got a call from Groppetti's Deli, our officers responded over there and their front window had been smashed and there was blood on the floor," Dunford said. "When we asked if anything had been stolen, they said only change had been taken."

Crime scene specialist Katie Kirkbride was then called in to process the scene, in hopes of connecting Schmidt to the break in. Results of evidence collected at the scene is not yet available.

Even as officers were assessing the break in at Groppetti's, two more calls came in, one from the Los Altenos Market on Main Street and another from the Escalon Historical Society, right next door to the market. Both had been broken into, though officials said it didn't appear as though any items were missing from those locations.

And while officers were busy at the break-ins there, Sgt. Jim Atkinson was working a theft at the new Morrison Homes subdivision off McHenry Avenue, on Silverwood.