Man arrested driving stolen vehicle he bought Saturday night

On Saturday, September 3rd, 2022, at 11:03 pm, a Turlock Police officer near the 1100 block of Columbia St, Turlock, observed a vehicle violate the California Vehicle Code, so he made a traffic stop on it.

The driver of the vehicle, Gabriel Avila, 25, of Modesto, immediately pulled onto the property of a random residence and exited the vehicle. A few seconds later, the officer’s dispatcher informed him that the vehicle was reported stolen, so Avila was detained in handcuffs for further investigation.

Avila provided the officer with a plausible story that he had just purchased the vehicle from a woman for cheap in a fast food parking lot after finding it on the app OfferUp. Avila even provided a bill of sale with the woman’s name, however, he should have known that something was off because the vehicle’s ignition was punched out and the woman who he had bought it from was not the vehicle’s registered owner.

According to court records, the woman who Avila claimed he had bought the vehicle from, a 53-year old of Modesto, has nine previous criminal cases in Stanislaus County dating back to 1995. According to an old article by The Modesto Bee, the woman was arrested by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office back in 2008 for auto theft and burglary.

Regardless of the woman’s history, the officer had probable cause to believe that Avila knew the vehicle was stolen based on the totality of the circumstances.

Avila was arrested and booked into the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center on charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and driving with an open alcohol receptacle.

The investigation remains on-going. Anyone with information that could assist in the investigation is encouraged to call Officer Philip Kauffman at 209-656-3155.

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