Two California men charged after allegedly stealing over $20K in tools - East Idaho News
Crime Watch

Two California men charged after allegedly stealing over $20K in tools

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POCATELLO — Two Los Angeles men allegedly found in possession of dozens of stolen tools face 12 combined felony charges.

Jobsan Enoc Garcia Baca, 21, and Oscar Orlando Herrera, 57, were arrested during the early morning hours of Jan. 15, when they were found in possession of tools believed to have been stolen from multiple job site trailers, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Court documents show both men have been charged with five counts of felony grand theft.

Additionally, Herrera has been charged with felonies for burglary and malicious injury to property, as well as a misdemeanor for providing false information to an officer.

The arrests occurred after officers with the Pocatello Police Department received a call reporting a burglary at an area job site around midnight on Jan. 15.

Around 12:30 a.m., Pocatello officers were dispatched to assist Bannock County Sheriff’s deputies with a traffic stop near the intersection of Olympus Drive and Paradigm Way. A white Chevrolet panel van had been stopped and was believed to have been involved in the burglary.

The driver of the van, Garcia Baca, and his passenger, Herrera, were questioned at the scene of the traffic stop.

Because of what was described in police reports as discrepancies in their stories, the two men were transported to the Pocatello Police Department for questioning.

There, with assistance from a Spanish-speaking Idaho State Police trooper, the two men were again questioned in separate rooms.

During questioning, the men provided differing answers to questions about how long they had known each other, and why they were in Pocatello.

One thing the two men both said was that they were from Los Angeles and working at a construction site in Salt Lake City.

They said they had been in Utah for two weeks. However, during questioning, police received a notification that the vehicle the men were driving had been flagged in Las Vegas on Jan. 13.

During questioning, officers noted Herrera’s demeanor as that of someone who had taken drugs. Because officers had reason to believe the men were involved in drug trafficking between California and Idaho, they were taken back to the van where a narcotic police dog had been requested.

In a walk around the vehicle, the dog “hit” on drugs near the front seat.

Officers allegedly found a “very small amount” of marijuana in the center console of the van. Herrera told officer that a third party had smoked marijuana in the van, but neither of the two men there that night had been involved.

With permission from Garcia Baca, officers were allowed to search the back of the van.

They found a “large quantity of tools thrown into the back of the van,” according to the affidavit.

Among the tools found in the van were saws, an air compressor, nail guns and drills.

Some of the tools were labeled with names and apparent initials. Asked about those names and initials, Garcia Baca could not provide answers. According to the affidavit, the younger man claimed his boss, Herrera, owned the tools and that the two had brought them from Los Angeles.

Continued search of the van uncovered a tool bag with a name and phone number. Officers called the number and spoke with the owner of the tool bag, who said they believed those tools had been stolen from a job site.

Herrera and Garcia Baca were placed under arrest and booked at Bannock County Jail, where they are each currently being held on $50,000 bonds.

Officers spoke with managers responsible for numerous job sites in the area. According to the affidavit, those sites were missing dozens of tools, totaling in more than $20,000 in value. In addition, several trailers, windows, doors and tool lock boxes had been damaged. Flood lights had also been knocked off the side of at least one trailers.

Officers believe all damages and burglaries occurred between 2 p.m. on Jan. 14 and just after midnight on Jan. 15.

If he is found guilty, Garcia Baca could face as much as 70 years in prison and $25,000 in fines. Herrera could face as much as 81-1/2 years in prison and $32,000 in fines.

Both men are scheduled to appear before Magistrate Judge Paul Laggis for preliminary hearings on Jan. 27.