first_img February 26, 2018 FacebookTwitter ESCONDIDO (KUSI) — A man suspected of stealing a mule early Monday from a drifter making camp for the night in a North County park was caught hours later and arrested on suspicion of grand theft of livestock.David Albert Martinez, 28, and a cohort allegedly untied the roughly 1,000-pound animal, named Little Girl, from a tree at Grape Day Park in Escondido while her owner slept nearby and walked off with the mule shortly after midnight. A surveillance camera captured images of the perpetrators, according to police.The mule’s keeper, 70-year-old John Sears, awoke around dawn to find his pack animal gone and immediately reported the theft, Lt. Ed Varso said.Officers searched the neighborhood and surrounding areas for hours with help from a sheriff’s helicopter crew. About 2:30 p.m., police caught up with Martinez as he led Little Girl alongside a road near Dixon Lake, about a mile east of the spot where she had gone missing, the lieutenant said.The 28-year-old mule, appearing none the worse for the ordeal, was then reunited with her relieved master, Varso said.What inspired the alleged theft was unclear, the lieutenant said. Officers remained on the lookout for the outstanding suspect.Sears has traveled California on foot with a succession of mules, often three at once, for decades, according to a website that documents his travels. He gravitated toward his “ages-old nomadic life” because it’s where he and his animals “want to be” and because doing otherwise “makes no sense,” a statement on the site asserts.Sears acquired Little Girl in 1993, according to the website, which explains that he began traveling the state and living outdoors in the mid-1980s and has been doing so full time since retiring in 2001. Stolen mule reunited with owner, suspect in Escondido police custody KUSI Newsroom Categories: Local San Diego News Updated: 5:58 PM Posted: February 26, 2018 KUSI Newsroom, last_img

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