A Covelo man has been arrested on suspicion of looting two local businesses amid the ongoing statewide COVID-19 shelter-in-place protocol.
According to a Sheriff’s Office press release, Mendocino County deputies responded to the Village Hearth business to investigate a reported burglary-in-progress just before 3 AM on Friday, April 17.
At the scene, deputies discovered the front door open, a window broken, and the place completely trashed. The owner arrived shortly thereafter and said an Apple iPad that belonged to the store was missing.
But something had also been left behind — a black-colored pellet rifle.
During the initial investigation, deputies learned that Keith’s Market, another local business, had also been broken into and significantly vandalized in the process. The store manager arrived and reviewed surveillance footage with deputies, watching as the suspect — clad in a black baseball cap, black hoodie, and black jeans, and carrying a black pellet rifle — shattered the glass on the front doors and went inside, proceeding to steal about $630 worth of alcohol and cigarettes.
Deputies quickly identified 51-year-old Neil Bruce Waldron as the primary suspect, based on his previous commercial burglary arrests, his probation status, and the fact that he was in the area at the time of the burglaries.
As fate would have it, he was also wearing the same clothes as the suspect in the footage.
It’s estimated that Waldron did about $1,300 in damage to Village Hearth and around $4,000 to Keith’s Market.
He was arrested and booked at the Mendocino County Jail on suspicion of looting, second-degree burglary, and probation violation.