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Community Sees Rise In Crime, Fire Incidents
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A busy week for local police and firefighters included a rash of crime incidents and a hay fire that destroyed several tons of hay.

An early morning call on Sunday had officers seeking a suspect in an armed robbery.

According to reports, Riverbank Police Services deputies were dispatched to the DC Donut shop on the 2700 block of Patterson Road just before 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23 to a report of an armed robbery. Police said a man later identified as Armando Rocha, 38, entered the business, jumped over the counter and robbed the female employee of cash from the register. During the robbery Rocha chased the employee behind the counter and tried to stab her with a screwdriver but missed, although her shoulder was scratched. Rocha took the money and fled the business and was arrested a few blocks away. The stolen money and the weapon used by Rocha were recovered when he was taken into custody without incident. Rocha admitted to the robbery indicating that he needed the money. He was booked into Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.


Hay Fire In Riverbank

Fires have been lighting up the West Coast as fire season is well under way. Besides the haze in the air, the Central Valley has had its own share of fires to deal with, including the most recent Rodden Fire in Oakdale and a hay fire in Riverbank in the area of Eleanor and Patterson roads.

Fortunately, officials said, the fires have not been as intense here as they are in the surrounding areas and fire services in this area have been able to communicate effectively to prevent loss of homes and life and contain the fires relatively quickly.

One fire that was contained but continued to smolder for several days was first reported on Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 2:11 p.m., with approximately 300 to 400 tons of hay on fire at a farm on Eleanor Road, off Patterson. Due to the Rodden fire in neighboring Oakdale that occurred at roughly the same time, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District crews had been dispatched to the scene in Oakdale so Ripon Consolidated Fire District along with Modesto Fire, Farmington, and Salida assisted in containing the hay fire. Crews cleared the scene about 5:45 p.m., but the fire smoldered for several days. No injuries were reported and, following the initial attack, the smoldering fire was not threatening any structures on the property.


Scam Alert

Riverbank Police Services posted a scam alert on their Facebook page regarding a caller that states you have won more than $8 million and to receive this money the winner must send them money through Money Gram to send the proper paperwork to begin the process to release the funds. After “they” receive the funds they call the person back and state that they have won a car and need to pay the processing fee so the vehicle can be released at the local airport.

Police are urging residents: Please do not send them any money. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. If you have to pay money to receive money, then something is wrong. If you receive a call just tell them you know they are running a scam and not to call you again, if you don’t recognize the number calling you, don’t answer it, let it go to voice mail.


War On Drugs

Other crime-related incidents on the streets of Riverbank this past week included a traffic stop on Friday, Aug. 14 at 1:14 p.m. that was conducted by Deputy Wall on a vehicle at Roselle Avenue and Minnear Avenue for a California Vehicle Code violation. According to officials, during the stop the officer learned that the passenger, Thomas Bingham, was on searchable probation. The probation search was conducted and Bingham was found to be in possession of a methamphetamine pipe in violation of his probation terms. Further investigation revealed that Jeffery Hutson was in possession of two large baggies of methamphetamine. Both Hutson and Bingham were booked into the county jail on the various drug charges without incident.

Earlier that week on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 4 p.m. another traffic stop occurred on Sylvan Avenue which led to the arrest of Cristian Jimenez, 21, of Modesto for unlawful possession of narcotics. Jimenez was stopped for speeding which led to a probation search where he was found to be in possession of Vicodin pills that he did not have a prescription for, police said.