Flat Tires Stall Getaway of Burglary Suspects

Times Staff Writer

A pair of suspected burglars who were allegedly brazen enough to ransack a sheriff's station wound up in custody Tuesday after flat tires on their getaway van prevented their escape.

The suspects, who, witnesses said, talked about "getting out of town real fast," allegedly took more than $10,000 in office and computer equipment from three government agencies in Pine Valley, but were arrested two blocks away with a pair of flats, authorities said.

"What's neat about this whole thing is that the guys couldn't get out of town because they had no money to fix the flats," Sheriff's Sgt. Sam Miranda said.

Two burglars entered town sometime after 11 p.m. Monday and broke into the Frosty Burger restaurant on Old Highway 80, stealing food, Miranda said.

The sergeant said the two then kicked in the front door of the sheriff's station, which shares a building with the Pine Valley Fire Department and a water district office on the 28000 block of Old Highway 80.

The sheriff's station was "completely ransacked," Miranda said.

Stethoscopes, scissors, blood pressure screening devices and other medical equipment were taken from two ambulances, Miranda said.

"Who knows what they were going to do?" he said.

However, the most extensive damage was done to the water district office.

"Everything was turned inside out and upside down," Miranda said. "They ripped things apart, spilled ink on paper work, split the front door open, turned over office equipment, toppled over computers and emptied all of the drawers."

With the van packed, the two got a couple of blocks away from the crime scene before being forced to stop at a service station with two flat tires.

A station attendant alerted a retired sheriff's deputy who had come in for repairs on his car that he had overheard the burglars "talking about getting out of town real fast," Miranda said.

When retired deputy Richard Zeipke walked over to the station to inform authorities about the "two suspicious individuals," Deputy James Cook had just discovered the ransacked burglary scene.

The two returned to the station and approached the van. "The burglars ducked and pretended like they were asleep," Miranda said.

A piece of marked ambulance equipment on the floor of the van, however, did them in.

Jesus Ernesto Villaponda, 22, of Chula Vista was arrested on suspicion of burglary, felonious malicious mischief, attempted auto theft, conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A 17-year-old Chula Vista youth, whose name was withheld because of his age, was arrested on suspicion of burglary, felonious malicious mischief, attempted auto theft and conspiracy.

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