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Busy Weekend For Officers
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In what is becoming the norm, Escalon Police officers responded to a number of complaints - and made several arrests - over the weekend.

"What we're seeing is more arrests for domestic violence, more disturbances," said Escalon Police Chief Dug Dunford. "There's added stress where people maybe haven't seen it before, with financial issues, maybe losing a job ... people are more on edge and we're seeing an increase in incidents. I think other cities probably are, too."

A dozen people were arrested over the weekend in connection with a number of incidents, including a few on felony charges.

Just after midnight on Saturday, May 2, officers stopped a vehicle in the area of McHenry and Ullrey, discovering that the truck had been reported stolen out of Stockton, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The ignition had been punched. Arrested as a result of the traffic stop were Hugo Hernandez, 21, of Stockton on suspicion of felony stolen vehicle, possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, possession of paraphernalia and being an unlicensed driver. Jose Acosta, 29, of Stockton was arrested on suspicion of felony stolen vehicle, possession of stolen property and giving false information. Both men were booked at San Joaquin County Jail.

Later in the day, a melee broke out over a youth softball game, when parents got into a scuffle over a player's decision not to slide into home during a play at the plate, as per league rules.

It ended with a player being ejected, one person being assaulted following the game, two women fighting and three others possibly facing charges for jumping into the fray.

"This all occurred at a softball game," Dunford said of the incident at Hogan Field, around 3:45 p.m. Arrested on suspicion of felony battery with serious injury was Michael New, 39, of Escalon. He reportedly caused injuries to another person in the scuffle, said police. A 23-year-old Escalon woman was arrested on suspicion of obstructing a police officer and causing a disturbance and released on a citation. Police are reviewing the case and said additional charges may be pending.

An evening check of a suspicious vehicle in the 1900 block of Roosevelt netted more arrests. A passenger in the vehicle, identified as Shelee Chituras, 37, of Escalon was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of a controlled substance, possession of a narcotic controlled substance without a prescription and possession of paraphernalia. Police said she was on parole for possession of a controlled substance and searchable based on that probationary status. They searched the vehicle and her purse and located the items. She was booked at county jail. The driver, a 43-year-old Escalon man, was cited for having an open container in the vehicle and not wearing his seatbelt.

Along with the arrests, Dunford pointed to an increase in petty theft complaints.

"We're just seeing more of the crimes of opportunity," he said, urging residents to again be cautious, making sure to lock their doors, close their garages and keep valuables out of their car.

"Be cautious, be hyper-vigilant," he said. "People have a short fuse right now and I think that by being more aware of that, with each other, we can show some sympathy and empathy."

The department is taking more reports this year than they did in 2008, with 144 arrests so far this year and 581 total reports.