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2.18.23 – Napa Valley Register

The man in the video seems to be waiting for someone, or something. It is 5:30 a.m. on Feb. 1, and it’s still dark outside at Napa’s Riverpark Shopping Center.

Wearing a black hoodie that covers his head, jeans and white shoes, the man paces a few steps left and then right, forward and back. Looking out into the parking lot, he stops for a second and then, holding a screwdriver in his right hand, with two quick backward chops of his arm, he breaks the front window of MO’s Hot Dogs.

As seen and heard by a security camera, the glass shatters and falls noisily to the ground. The man next kicks and pushes his way through the broken opening, fast walks to the register, grabs the cash box and quickly exits the eatery through the same broken window.

It only took 36 seconds for MO’s Hot Dogs to become the latest Napa small business hit by a “prolific” burglar, one police say may be responsible for break-ins at as many as 27 other businesses.

By 7:15 a.m. that morning Martin Olsen heard the news that his business had been robbed. Olsen said first he was surprised. Then he was angry.

“Angry that someone would break into a small business,” said Olsen. “Small businesses have a hard enough time trying to make a profit,” he said. 

The damage and theft total more than $2,000.

“It’s a huge loss,” — equivalent to about three or four days of business, he said.

Martin wasn’t the only angry one.

According to Napa police, from Oct. 1 to Feb. 1, dozens of small businesses were targeted up and down Jefferson Street, Lincoln Avenue, Trancas Street, Solano Avenue, Soscol Avenue, Coombsville Road and elsewhere throughout the city.

That crime spree may have come to an end. On Feb. 2, Napa police announced the arrest of 22-year-old Steven Jose Paulino of Napa. Charged with five counts of second-degree commercial burglary, his bail is set at $250,000. As of Feb. 17, Paulino remains in custody in the Napa County jail.

A news release from the police department detailed the arrest.

At about 12:30 a.m., on Feb. 2, Napa Police officers assigned to a specialized patrol “located a vehicle that was associated with a series of commercial burglaries driving in a commercial shopping area,” said the release.

This associated vehicle was captured on surveillance footage obtained by officers a day prior, the release said. “Officers were also aware this shopping area had experienced a rash of burglaries related to the commercial burglary series.”

“Officers followed the vehicle out of the area and the driver, later identified as Paulino, attempted to evade the officers’ efforts to detain him.”

“Paulino was eventually located by officers walking in the area of Solomon Avenue and Dillon Drive and taken into custody. Officers found evidence related to the commercial burglaries in Paulino’s possession and in his vehicle, which was parked nearby.” 

Napa Police Detective Jose Velasquez subsequently interviewed Paulino “wherein he admitted to several burglaries.”