Luis Garcia Lopez and Yvonne Jessica Martinez look at the surveillance camera on their way out
Community Set Up Fund To replace The Stolen Presents
CASTROVILLE—Monterey County Sheriff’s Investigators have arrested a modern day Grinch and his sidekick who tried take away Christmas for hundreds of disadvantaged area youth.
The two are accused of breaking into the Our Lady of Refuge Church on Preston Street in Castroville and stealing several hundred dollars worth of presents, which had been collected last year and were going to be given out to kids this year.
On Friday, October 16 the Sheriff’s Office was notified that the Castroville church had been burglarized and some $400.00 in children’s Christmas toys had been taken.
Sheriff’s detectives began their investigation by distributing the surveillance footage showing a man and a women carrying some of the gifts, and looking into the cameras as they left the church, to local law enforcement and media throughout the area. The Sheriff’s department listed the point of entry as the church’s side door.
On Wednesday, October 28, sheriff’s investigators received numerous calls identifying the two suspects seen in the surveillance footage. They were reported to be 37-year-old Luis Garcia Lopez and 31-year-old Yvonne Jessica Martinez, both from out of the area. Lopez lives in Greenfield, in southern Monterey County, and Martinez is from Salinas.
Lopez, a mechanic at a Firestone location, was arrested at his job Wednesday on numerous warrants and for possession of methamphetamine. Yvonne Martinez was found later near a vehicle that contained the stolen toys on Clark Street in Salinas. At first, she denied any involvement in the burglary. But she later confessed to pulling off the ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ caper with her boyfriend.
Luis Lopez had been arrested twice recently on drug related charges. On August 31, two months prior to this incident, he was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, and with a suspended license. In July he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia, along with a probation violation.
Yvonne Martinez was also arrested earlier this year on charges of petty theft, possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia, and driving on a suspended license. She was arrested on drug and paraphernalia charges, and disorderly conduct – public intoxication in July of 2012, and in November of 2009. She was also charged with burglary in 2007, according to available arrest records.
A fundraising effort has been set up at GoFundMe.com to help recover the cost of the Christmas toys that were stolen. As of Friday morning, they had raised $280.00 of a goal of $600.00.