Roseville Shell manager discusses capture of alleged gas thief
The manager of a Roseville gas station that made state wide news after thieves stole 1,000 gallons of fuel from it is speaking out, expressing gratitude for the arrest of the main suspect while also pointing out how inept he was at carrying out the alleged crime.
Edward Valila, 32, of Elk Grove is the prime suspect in burglarizing more than $4,500 in gas from a Shell Station on the 1000 block of Douglas Boulevard.
An unidentified female suspect is also being sought by Roseville police for her connection to the case.
The crime occurred on the night of Sept. 27, when Valila and a woman reportedly arrived at the Shell Station in a truck and swiped hundreds of gallons of gas by disabling a pump meter. The pair allegedly returned later that day and repeated the crime.
During their third sojourn, on Sept. 28, they were confronted by Shell manager Anup Sandhe, who knew something was wrong. Sande told the Press Tribune that Valila sent his female accomplice inside to distract her at the register while he stole the gas. But Sandhe noticed Valila acting suspiciously and went outside to confront him.
“I told him, ‘the pump’s registered $1.17 in gas and you’ve been out here for more than 15 minutes, what’s going on?’” Sandhe recalled. “He started getting sweaty and acting nervous. He was making all kinds of excuses: First he showed me a Shell gift card and said he was paying for the rest of the gas with that. I knew that wasn’t the case, and then he said the gas gauge in his truck was broken, and he didn’t know how much was in there.”
Sandhe wrote down Valila’s license plate number. Her foresight, along with direct video images of Valila and his accomplice, gave Roseville police leads to begin investigating. On Sunday, those efforts led to Valila’s home in Elk Grove.
Roseville police sergeant Karl Byer said Valila was not there when officers first arrived at his residence, but they spotted the truck used in the gas crimes. Valila eventually pulled up to find police officers waiting for him. He was taken into custody on charges of grand theft.
Sandhe said Shell’s insurance company does not cover losses for stolen gas. She believes the company can only get reimbursed if Valila is convicted and ordered to pay restitution. In the meantime, the minor glitch in the station’s gas meters that allowed the massive quantity of fuel to be stolen has been fixed, so the crime can not happen again.
As for how sly Valila was when he allegedly committed his crime, Sandhe was not impressed.
“It looks like he was not very experienced,” she said. “Especially how he was getting sweaty when I talked to him - I think he was new in the business.”
Scott Thomas Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at ScottA@RsvPT.