By Veronica Miller and Eliza Hernandez
WOODLAND, CA – In Yolo County Superior Court this week, Judge David Reed presided over the preliminary hearing of Dale Prater, charged with felony burglary in the second degree and misdemeanor disorderly conduct, with a prior conviction enhancement.
Prater was allegedly just sitting in a car. But officer testimony led to Prater being held for trial.
Officer Nazariy Yakimchuk was the first witness, who said he had set up motion alert surveillance cameras at a West Sacramento business after multiple catalytic converters had gone missing.
The night the cameras had been set up Officer Yakimchuk received a notification that motion had been detected on the camera, and he said he saw a blue Saturn SUV driving around the back of the building toward the dumpsters. It later returned again after midnight.
At the dumpsters two men got out and went to different areas, where Officer Yakimchuk heard power tools being used. He was unable to see what they had been using the power tools on because it was outside the frame of the video.
He called for patrol to go to the scene, where Prater was found. Prater allegedly told police he was there just to dumpster dive—although police said the tools consistent with those used to steal catalytic converters were found at the scene.
Officer Louis Esway, who was the officer dispatched to 990 Riverside Parkway where the incident occurred, testified that when he arrived at the scene there was a blue vehicle and the man in the driver seat was Prater with a second individual not in the vehicle but in the same area.
Officer Esway noticed an opened trailer and its lock was cut. He also found a Milwaukee angle grinder in the area.
The manager of Freedom Forever arrived at the scene to verify if anything on the property was missing and she stated that the utility trailer had been cut “but nothing appeared to be missing from the utility trailer.”
Deputy Public Defender Kattie Rogers asked the witness, Officer Esway, “He was seated in the car, correct? And he was by himself? And he was not anywhere near any of the trailers, correct?” The witness replied, “Correct.”
The witness also verified that a second suspect was not near the car when he arrived at the scene, but was near a truck where he was lying on the ground with the grinder.
No grinder, no stolen items and no tools that would help Prater break into trailers were found near him or in the car where he was sitting.
The witness did not observe Prater do anything else other than sit in his car.
Officers said Prater was compliant, respectful and did what he was told to do throughout the investigation.
Prater’s attorney closed her statement by emphasizing there was no evidence to indicate Prater was involved in the burglary but there is another individual who was not in the courtroom yet who possessed all the evidence to indicate him as the burglar.
To indicate clear intent and participation in the burglary Deputy District Attorney Jose Figueroa noted Prater’s previous statement where he stated to Officer Yakimchuk that “after he checked the dumpsters for copper he and his partner attempted to break into one of the trailers looking for more copper.”
Judge Reed determined Prater was at least aiding and abetting in the attempt to break into the trailers. His presence and his control of the vehicle deemed it enough to hold him accountable to all charges against him.