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May 12, 2002


land him in

local jail cell


Staff Writer

An El Centro transient, Douglas Dante Riddell, was arrested Friday afternoon after he allegedly:

A. tried to swipe a Budweiser delivery truck.

B. tried to steal a railroad engine parked on the tracks near Main Street.

C. walked into and quickly out of El Centro Liquor after nabbing a beer.

D: all of the above.


Readers who guessed "D" are just as amazed as El Centro police. Sgt. Mike Beltran said Riddell, 41, was arrested on suspicion of attempted grand theft auto, attempted vehicle theft and burglary.

He said Riddell's afternoon of alleged lawlessness started in a parking lot downtown.

According to the story of the driver of a Budweiser delivery truck, a man hopped into the cab while the driver was away and tried to start the vehicle.

When the Budweiser employee saw the man in the cab of his truck, he rushed over and grabbed the keys out of the ignition. Beltran said the man was allegedly "trying to get it going."

After the driver grabbed the keys, the man left the scene.

According to police, the man then walked to where a train engine was idled at the Union Pacific depot near 366 Main Street.

Beltran said Union Pacific employees reported hearing the train horn blowing and watching someone suspected of being "this Riddell guy in there revving the engine."

He almost got the engine going, according to Beltran but failed to hit a couple switches.

Asked if it is common for people to try to steal a railroad engine, Beltran said, "That was a first for me."

By the time officers got to the Union Pacific depot, the wannabe train thief had left.

At that point, officers were looking for a suspect for both attempted thefts.

That's when the officers were told a man matching Riddell's description had just done a "beer run" at El Centro Liquor on Fourth Street. Beltran said Riddell is accused of stealing one beer.

Eventually, Riddell was found in the 1400 block of Holt Avenue. He was being held in the county jail Saturday on $25,000 bail.

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