Dos Palos police arrest suspected burglar

Dos Palos police arrested a suspected burglar Monday night when he was caught red-handed, breaking into Dos Wong's restaurant, police said.

After setting off a burglary alarm in the restaurant, Esquiel Montez, 49, attempted to flee, police said. Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann said he saw the suspect with handfuls of stolen items, including copper pipes, food and a backpack blower. Mann said he approached the suspect and ordered Montez to get to his knees. He immediately did so, Mann said.

Montez told Mann that he had two accomplices in the burglary, but Mann was unable to locate the other two. Montez was taken into custody by Mann.

Montez is also the suspect in a vehicle burglary that took place Sunday, police said. A resident reported that he saw Montez stealing several items from a vehicle early that morning. Montez admitted to that burglary as well and provided officers with a location of the stolen items, police said.

Mann said Montez has tormented Dos Palos police over the past year. He has taken several items from numerous residents, Mann said. Mann estimated that Montez has stolen in excess of $10,000 from Dos Palos residents and businesses.

"It's really been a pain," Mann said. "The damages that he's caused to residents and businesses have cost the owners hundreds of dollars in repairs. People were indicating that they were going to cause physical harm to him if they caught him, so it's better that it worked out this way."

Mann said Montez also admitted to the burglary at Dos Wong's.

Montez was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of burglary, grand theft and possession of stolen property.

Reporter Samuel Cosby can be reached at (209) 385-2484 or scosby@mercedsun-star.com.