Atwater police: Two adults, one teen arrested in foiled Christmas burglary

rparsons@mercedsunstar.comDecember 25, 2013 

— Three people, including a teenager, were arrested early Christmas morning after police said they “cleaned out” an Atwater home during a burglary.

“They basically filled two vehicles with property from the home,” Atwater police Sgt. Dick Wisdom said.

Grace Fotelo, 49, and Francine Mello-Napualani, 26, both of Merced, and a 17-year-old Atwater boy were arrested on suspicion of burglary and conspiracy, police said.

Police said alert neighbors called them at 1:23 a.m. regarding “suspicious circumstances” at a home in the 1500 block of Vine Circle. Officers said the trio parked a 1993 Ford Explorer behind a home and began removing nearly everything that was not bolted down.

“When officers arrived, they saw them loading furniture into the SUV,” Wisdom said.

Police said the suspects also had loaded a 1998 Mazda sedan with stolen property.

According to authorities, the trio claimed to have purchased a couch from the home through an online classified advertisement for $400 and were simply picking it up – on Christmas Day, around 1 a.m.

“There were televisions that appeared to be missing from the home; a lot of things were removed,” Wisdom said. “They spent a lot of time inside there.”

Investigators said they believe the suspects might have cased the street beforehand and known the homeowners were out of town for the holidays.

A complete list of stolen property was being worked out Wednesday afternoon.

The residents have been contacted regarding the burglary at their home.

“Neighbors knew (the homeowners) were out of town and felt everything they were seeing looked suspicious,” Wisdom said.

Police said the incident was a good example of residents working with officers to protect their own neighborhoods and compared it to a recent foiled burglary at a small grocery store in Atwater.

Around 2:40 a.m. Sunday, an alert resident spotted people inside the R-N Market in the 200 block of Atwater Boulevard, police said.

Officers responded and found a man inside the store and a suspected co-conspirator outside the store.

Police arrested Dwight Aubrey, 34, of Hayward and David Pounds, 35, of Richmond after a brief scuffle and foot chase. They were booked at the Merced County Jail on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy and resisting arrest.

Staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at rparsons@mercedsunstar.com or (209) 385-2482.

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