Neighbors spot man breaking into van, sit on him until officers arrive, police say

clambert@thetribunenews.comMay 29, 2013 

Mario Sanchez Jr., 21, of Templeton was arrested Sunday, May 26, 2013, on suspicion of vehicle burglary and possession of narcotics. Original story »

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect new information provided by Paso Robles police.

A 21-year-old Templeton man was arrested Sunday after Paso Robles police received a call saying a suspected car burglar had been detained in a citizen’s arrest.

When officers arrived, they found the two men sitting on top of Mario Sanchez Jr., according to the Paso Robles Police Department.

Sanchez was later arrested on suspicion of vehicle burglary and possession of narcotics, both felonies. Police said they found about 3.7 grams of what they believe to be cocaine in his pocket.

A neighbor who initially called police told officers he was inside his nearby home when he heard a car alarm, looked outside and saw Sanchez running away from a 1998 Dodge Caravan with a broken window, according to police.

Witnesses, including the caller, told police Sanchez hid until the car alarm turned off, and then returned and entered the van. After hearing the alarm, the van’s owners come out of their house to check on the vehicle, and two neighbors — Christian Mercado, 22, and Christopher Elisarraras, 21 — ran outside to warn them that someone was inside the van. The caller also ran outside to warn the van’s owners.

Mercado and Elisarraras then told Sanchez he was under citizen’s arrest and asked him to sit on the ground, which he did, according to Paso Robles police Sgt. Clint Wenter. Sanchez, who was intoxicated, chuckled and then got up to run away, Wenter said. He only made it 30 feet before Elisarraras and Mercado tackled him. They both sat on him and waited for officers to arrive, police said.

Sanchez was taken to San Luis Obispo County Jail but was not in custody on Wednesday, according to a search of the jail information website.

"This was great work by neighbors,” Wenter said.

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