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Turlock couple caught with burglary tools near home of ‘Star Wars’ creator

Turlock couple caught with burglary tools near home of ‘Star Wars’ creator

Daniel Coats


POSTED January 21, 2014 6:29 p.m.

A Turlock couple arrested on theft-related charges in December, were arrested Saturday night in Marin County after their suspicious behavior near the home of filmmaker George Lucas caught the attention of a sheriff’s deputy patrolling in the area.

Daniel Allen Coats, 32, and Heather Victoria Salen, 30, were stopped Saturday night near Nicasio after a sheriff’s deputy watched them drive repeatedly up and down Lucas Valley Road near Skywalker Ranch, where Lucas resides.

Inside the couple’s Chevrolet truck, the sheriff’s deputy found several items commonly used in burglaries, including a lock-picking kit, shaved keys, bolt cutters, and a crowbar. Deputies also found ammunition, as well as purses, cell phones, and electronics, the Marin Independent Journal reported. The items were covered in glass, giving the indication that had been stolen.

Coats and Salen were both booked into the Marin County Jail on suspicion of possession of burglary tool and ammunition.

Their arrest Saturday comes while they were out on bail for charges in Stanislaus County. In December the couple ended up in the custody of law enforcement after a fire at their Turlock residence prompted a police investigation.

When Turlock fire fighters were called to the 500 block of Sunnyside Drive, they found flames licking the roofline of the house. The fire had originated in an alley and was ruled an arson.

While fighting the flames, fire fighters found a large supply of construction tools at the scene that were engraved with a last name that was different from that of the resident — Coats. Officers checked the tools and found they had been reported stolen. The owner estimated the value of the tools at about $15,000.

Coats was not at his residence, but because he was on parole, his house was open to a search, according to the Turlock Police Department. Inside the home officers found a purse belonging to Salen. Inside the purse they found numerous credit cards, driver’s licenses, and Social Security cards — all in other people’s names, said Turlock Police spokesperson Officer Mayra Lewis.

Officers also found property from an auto theft that had been reported earlier that day from the parking lot of the Sizzler restaurant.

Salen was located at the Sunnyside residence and arrested for possession of stolen property, Lewis said.

Coats was located a few days later sleeping in a car in the 2100 block of W. Main Street.

Coats had a handgun in his lap when he was found, Lewis said. He was taken into custody without incident. It was found that the serial number on the gun had been destroyed, Lewis said.

Coats was charged with possession of a controlled substance on Jan. 14 while out on bail. Salen was charged with possession of narcotics paraphernalia on Dec. 31, while out on bail.

This was not the first time a trip to the Bay Area ended in arrest for the couple. They were both arrested in April 2013, in Pleasanton after they were caught with six $5 bills that had been altered to look like $50 and $100 bills, according to the Pleasanton Weekly.

In 2010, Coats was convicted in Stanislaus County of auto theft and residential burglary for a 2009 break-in. On May 8, 2009 at approximately 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the El Rosal restaurant in Turlock, Coats broke into a parked 2007 black Cadillac Escalade and stole a purse that was left inside. Coats retrieved the victim’s house key and driver’s license from inside the purse to discover the victim’s address, drove to and broke into the victim’s home in Denair while she was still eating inside the restaurant. After returning to her home, the victim discovered that she had been burglarized.

While investigating the scene, a deputy located a fingerprint that was determined to match Coats. An arrest warrant was then issued for Coats.

On May 11, 2010, Coats stole a 1997 gold Infinity J30 car that was parked on Lander Avenue in Turlock. Coats was later arrested in Sparks, Nevada driving the stolen car.

He pled no contest to the charges and was sentenced to six years in state prison. He served less than three years, according to court records.

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