Burning Evidence Proves Difficult for Thief

By Lauren Keene

A Woodland man was arrested and his cousin hospitalized with severe burns Tuesday after allegedly setting fire to the remains of a stolen car, according to Woodland police.

Alberto Vega had been dropped off at the Woodland Memorial Hospital emergency room at about 7 p.m. with severe burns, prompting hospital staff to contact police.

“Vega was unable to communicate with detectives as he was being treated for second- and third-degree burns to his hands, arms, head, neck and face,” Sgt. Dan Letamendi.

Friends and relatives told police that Vega had suffered the injuries while working on a car in the 200 block of Palm Avenue.

Upon further investigation, however, detectives discovered that Vega and his cousin, 22-year-old Diego Vega of Woodland, had allegedly stripped the contents of a stolen sedan, then conspired with other people to dispose of it in a rural area of Yolo County, Letamendi said.

On Tuesday evening, the allegedly stripped vehicle was loaded on a trailer and taken to the area of County Roads 18 and 98.

“Alberto, in an attempt to ignite the car on fire, also ignited himself,” Letamendi said. “Alberto was driven to a friend’s apartment in Woodland, where they attempted to treat his wounds. However, (they) soon realized he was having difficulty breathing and walked him to Woodland Memorial Hospital.”
Alberto Vega was transferred to the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento for treatment of his burns. Police arrested Diego Vega on suspicion of arson, conspiracy and possession of stolen property, Letamendi said.

Vega, of 261 Palm Ave., was lodged at the Yolo County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Letamendi said detectives have identified two other possible suspects in the case, and the investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Woodland Police Department at (530) 661-7800.

The Sacramento County Auto Theft Suppression Unit is assisting in the investigation, Letamendi said.


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