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Man arrested for alleged loader theft

BALLICO — A suspect is behind bars after he and another man allegedly attempted to drag an automatic peach bin loader from a property near Bradbury Avenue and Alves Road.

Suspect Gustavo Castro, 28, of Winton was arrested after he and another man were seen trying to push the loader into a trailer, according Tom MacKenzie, Merced County Sheriff’s department spokesman.

Deputy Fred Robinson arrived at the scene around 9 a.m. and followed the tracks left by the thieves, MacKenzie said.

After following the tracks for about a mile, Robinson saw the suspects allegedly trying to drive away with the loader on the trailer. One of the suspects took off running. Castro, who was the passenger in the trailer, was captured, MacKenzie said.

Although sheriff deputies set up a perimeter around the area and called a K-9 unit, the second suspect was able to escape. He is described as a Hispanic male in his mid-30s, about 5-feet-9-inches tall. The suspect has a medium build and was wearing light colored clothing, a white baseball cap and a mustache.

The peach loader, which is worth $20,000, was returned to owner, MacKenzie said.

MacKenzie said the suspects either had the trailer waiting in the area, or left briefly to get the trailer and came back.Castro was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of grand theft. He is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or