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Man arrested for auto theft
Ceres Cop Car

Suspicious activity which appeared to police to initially be a drug transaction led to the recovery of a stolen vehicle and an arrest.

At 1:55 a.m. Saturday Officer Barjinder Singh was on patrol and believed that he saw a hand-to-hand drug transaction take place between a man on a bike and a driver of a blue Chevy parked in front of the at the Herndon Avenue 7-Eleven store. Singh asked for backup and Officer Matt Berlier arrived.

Berlier spoke to driver Eddie Galaspy, 35, of Modesto, who told him that the guy on the bike just asked him if he wanted to buy a bike. The bicyclist Randall Burkhart, 24, of Modesto, had the same story and was released.

While speaking with Galaspy, Officer Berlier noticed the Chevy had paper plates and there was a license plate on the dash. A check of the license plate showed it registered to a 1997 Chevy. The VIN on the vehicle showed it had been reported as stolen out of Modesto. Galaspy stated he just borrowed the vehicle from a friend of his named Mike who was at a motel room at the California Inn. Galaspy was adamant about not stealing the vehicle and did not know the vehicle was stolen. A friend with Galaspy confirmed the story that the vehicle belonged to Mike.

Berlier drove to the motel on South Ninth Street and detained Michael Castillo, 26, of Modesto.

Castillo claimed he bought the Chevy about a week prior from a guy named Craig in San Leandro for $800. Despite saying he gave Craig $500 and offered to pay him the other $300 later, Castillo was unable to provide the seller's last name, address, or telephone number. Castillo claimed that the Craig wrote out a bill of sale and it was in the glove box. Officers found no such item. Castillo said he let Galaspy borrow the car to get some food in Ceres. After Galaspy was released he approached Castillo and thanked him for not trying to blame him for the stolen vehicle.

The real owner told officers that he was the victim of a carjacking in Modesto. He said he didn't know the suspect and didn't give them permission to drive the car.

Castillo was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail for felony auto theft.