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Cash register bandit rings up arrest
cash bandit mug
Oscar Villarreal

The man suspected of stealing cash registers from several businesses in Turlock and Merced County was apprehended Friday night in Turlock.


The suspect, Oscar Villarreal, 33, of Yuba City allegedly admitted to the thefts of five different businesses, said Turlock Police Sgt. Nino Amirfar.


Villarreal’s arrest came about 18 hours after what turned out to be his last theft.


Because of his method of thievery, Villarreal was dubbed the “cash register bandit.” His method was to distract the clerk behind the counter by asking for cigarettes. When the clerk’s back was turned he would rip the cash register off the counter and make off with the money.


Villarreal is believed to have robbed a Walgreen’s and an Arco gas station in Merced on July 25; a Vallero in Turlock on July 27; and a Circle K in Atwater and a Chevron in Turlock, both on Friday.


Video surveillance from one of the robberies showing the suspect and the car was released to local law enforcement and a be-on-the-lookout had been issued by the police department.


Around 7:30 p.m. Friday a Turlock police officer on patrol in the 900 block of Kenwood Avenue spotted a white car that matched the vehicle used as the getaway car in the thefts and the officer initiated a traffic stop, Amirfar said.


It was during the car stop that Villarreal told the police he was the one wanted for the thefts, Amirfar said.


There was a female passenger in the vehicle, but investigators determined she was not the woman seen driving Villarreal away from one of the robberies.

 Villarreal was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on robbery charges and is being held in lieu of a $75,000 bail, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department in custody report.To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.