Man spray-paints face black in attempt to evade arrest, police say

Suspected car thief in Madera, Calif., allegedly spray-paints his face black to try to hide from police

A Central Valley man learned that as disguises go, a spray-painted black face isn’t the best method to elude police.

About 9 p.m. Saturday in Madera, police came upon a stolen car in the 100 block of Monterey Street. As officers approached the car, a man was spotted running away.

At first, he evaded capture, said police Sgt. Dan Foss. But minutes later, a tipster told officers that the man was at his home in a nearby apartment complex.

When police arrived, the man jumped through a rear window and applied a coating of black paint from an aerosol can.

Officers found him within a block of his home.

“He was trying to hide against a white wall, so he really stood out,” Foss said.

At first, officers were puzzled by who the man was — so the disguise had partly worked. But he was later identified as 23-year-old Jose Espinoza.

This was not Espinoza’s first brush with the law.

In January, Madera police say, he stole the purse of a woman who was walking by. After he took the purse, however, several witnesses called police and he was tracked down and arrested. More recently, he was arrested on a drug-related offense.

“He’s kind of a frequent flier,” said Foss, underscoring the need for camouflage.

Espinoza, who had the keys to the stolen vehicle in his pocket at the time of his arrest, has been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of stolen property, Foss said. The can of black spray paint was also recovered at the scene.

He remains behind bars in the County Jail, and it’s unclear whether he has an attorney. According to the Madera County district attorney’s office, he’s scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

9:20 p.m.: This story was updated with additional details throughout.

This story was originally published at 12:43 p.m.

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