Man arrested after allegedly taking tools from truck in Atwater

A man was arrested Monday for allegedly stealing tools after a Merced County sheriff's deputy grew suspicious about a vehicle driving around an Atwater neighborhood, the sheriff's department reported.

Deputy Chris Sziraki was patrolling the area of Herrod Avenue and Fleming Road around 2 a.m. when he stopped a vehicle. After a brief discussion with the driver and finding no obvious legal issues, Sziraki let her go, according to the sheriff's department.

Later, the deputy went to the same neighborhood regarding a report of a man at a home, asking to use the phone to call his wife. Sziraki noticed the same vehicle he pulled over earlier, and stopped it again. The woman said she was looking for her husband, Garren Waidley, 24. She said she'd dropped him off just before she was pulled over the first time.

She told the deputy Waidley had called her and told her to pick him up at Herrod Avenue and Fleming Road. After a search of the area, Deputy Raul Garcia found Waidley walking near Ashby Road and Buhach Avenue, carrying an impact wrench and an air compressor. While talking with Garcia, Waidley admitted to taking the tools from a truck he saw parked in the area, adding that he drove around until he saw something to steal, according to the sheriff's department.

Waidley took about $700 in tools from the truck, deputies said. The property was returned to its owner. Deputies reported visiting Waidley's home in the 1200 block of Juniper Avenue, where they allegedly found more stolen items.

Waidley was booked on suspicion of grand theft and possession of burglary tools and remains at the Merced County Jail in lieu of $21,000 bail.

-- Victor A. Patton