Thursday, September 22, 2005

Fla. car theft suspects return to scene to gas up


PENSACOLA, Fla. - If you're going to steal a gas station employee's car, don't come back an hour later to get a fill-up.

Investigators say that bit of logic escaped Artemio Castillo and Ernesto Garcia, who were arrested Tuesday night near the Parade gas station.

Employee Pam Pease, 49, was sweeping the parking area when she noticed a familiar car pull up to pump No. 7.

It was her blue 1994 Ford Escort with a missing hubcap. She had reported it stolen less than an hour earlier.

"It just blew my mind, but there they were," Pease said. "I'm glad it was low on gas."

Another attendant, Vince Nguyen, recognized suspects Castillo, 49, and Garcia, 41, both without known addresses, as the men who had asked him for a ride to Mississippi as he arrived at work shortly before Pease noticed her car was missing.

Nguyen asked the men in Spanish why they had returned and they replied that they needed gas, Pease said. He shut off the engine and offered the men water while other employees called 911.

The suspects fled on foot and Nguyen followed them through a back alley, Pease said. Two Escambia County sheriff's deputies and a police dog then took up the chase, catching one suspect in some brush and another across the street from the station.

The suspects remained today at the county jail on grand theft auto and resisting arrest charges. Bond was set at $7,500 for each. Jail records did not indicate whether they had lawyers and interviews are prohibited. The public defender's office does not comment on pending cases.

No comments: