Crime

Thieves didn’t know eyes were on them. Modesto, Oakdale men held in Sonora theft

If you witness a crime, here’s what to do

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.
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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

Two men watched by a store owner on a live feed as they stole from his Sonora business were chased and arrested early Saturday, the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office reported. The suspects, from Modesto and Oakdale, now face felony charges.

Video of the burglary

His surveillance system alerted the owner that there was movement inside his Mono Way hobby shop. He called emergency dispatch and gave updates as the men rummaged through the shop, the Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. Video shows them grabbing remote control vehicles and other merchandise.

As deputies and California Highway Patrol officers headed to the store, R and J Hobbies and Tools, the men drove away in a red Honda Accord packed with stolen goods. Minutes later, a CHP unit on Highway 108 in Sonora spotted it.

The CHP and and a sheriff’s unit attempted a traffic stop because the car didn’t stop at a red light, but the driver fled. The pursuit ended almost eight miles from the shop, near Springfield Road and Horseshoe Bend Road, where the driver missed a sharp turn. The car left the roadway and struck a large rock, getting stuck atop it.

The driver was taken into custody immediately. His passenger quickly got out and began to run. After a short foot chase, he was captured.

Nearly $4,000 worth of stolen property from the hobby shop was recovered and returned to the store owner. The business also reported about $5,000 in damages.

The driver, 58-year-old Robert Casper of Oakdale, and his passenger, 53-year-old James Cotner of Modesto, were arrested and booked into the Tuolumne County Jail on numerous felony charges and for outstanding arrest warrants, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

Casper faces fresh charges of committing a felony while out on bail, possession of a controlled substance, burglary, transport for sale of a controlled substance, receiving stolen property, conspiracy, vandalism, driving on a suspended license and evading arrest, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Sgt. Andrea Benson said.

Cotner faces fresh charges of committing a felony while out on bail or own recognizance, burglary, transportation for sale of a controlled substance, receiving stolen property, conspiracy, vandalism and obstructing or delaying a police officer.

Deke has been an editor and reporter with The Modesto Bee since 1995. He currently does breaking-news, education and human-interest reporting. A Beyer High grad, he studied geology and journalism at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.
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