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Early Morning Theft Thwarted
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Checking out a suspicious circumstance just after 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25 resulted in a pair of arrests in Escalon.

At approximately 4:07 a.m. on that day, Officer Gustavo Flores with the Escalon Police Department noticed a white Chevrolet pickup parked at the fuel pumps of the Texaco gas station. The Texaco gas station was closed for business. Officer Flores had prior knowledge that due to prior thefts of fuel from the fuel pumps, the owner of the business turned the fuel pumps off when the business is closed.

Officer Flores stopped behind the Chevrolet pickup and noticed a male subject holding the green diesel fuel nozzle. He also recognized that the Chevrolet product operated with gasoline and not diesel and noticed several large plastic containers in the bed of the pickup. The locking mechanism on one of the fuel pumps had been cut, the officer also observed.

Officer Flores detained the male subject who was identified as Edward Valila, 34, with an address listed out of Elk Grove. A passenger in the vehicle was subsequently identified as Dillon Votaw, 20, also listing an address out of Elk Grove. Officer Flores also detained Votaw pending further investigation without incident.

The initial investigation by Officer Flores established that Votaw and Valila had broken into the fuel pump and were able to dispense diesel fuel into the 30 gallon containers that were stored in the bed of the pickup. Approximately 165 gallons of diesel was taken, 60 gallons recovered. A search of the vehicle revealed suspected methamphetamine, suspected hashish, suspected marijuana, and burglary tools.

Due to medical reasons, Votaw was released on a citation with charges to follow which include petty theft, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of burglary tools, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a dangerous weapon (metal knuckles). Valila was booked at the San Joaquin County jail for petty theft, possession of a controlled substance, possession of hashish, conspiracy to commit a crime, and possession of burglary tools. Valila was also booked for a $25,000 misdemeanor warrant out of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office with a charge of possession of burglary tools.