Modestan spies his stolen tools on television

April 7, 2008 

Despite the gloom and doom, sometimes there are happy endings. Consider Mark Stalder of Modesto.

Thieves struck Stalder's truck one night in February 2007, grabbing all of his tools, including several specialized saws, a cordless nail gun and perfectly worn-in leather tool bags that fit against Stalder's hips "just right."

"It was really devastating," he said. "I'm a carpenter and I can't work without my tools."

To make matters worse, Stalder's insurance wouldn't reimburse him.

"Homeowners insurance wouldn't cover it because I make money with those tools," he said. "You're supposed to have separate insurance for that, but I didn't know. And car insurance only covers the stereo and what's bolted to my truck. I didn't have the money to pay $4,000 to buy new tools."

Imagine Stalder's surprise when, as he watched a news broadcast in October about stolen property recovered in Roseville, he saw his tools in the police warehouse on the screen. He recognized the unusual red blade on one of his saws, which was right next to a few tools without batteries. The burglars had overlooked his batteries, which Stalder had stuck beneath his seat.

Stalder called Roseville police and sent a copy of his police report. He described his tools to the detective, noting every nick, cut and spot.

"What you're describing is what I have," Stalder said the detective told him. Roseville police had caught a burglar who was making runs from Turlock to Roseville and selling his loot at a flea market there.

"I've been kind of doing without," he said. "It's a blessing that they found something."

More than a year later, Stalder still hasn't gotten his tools back. They are being held as evidence, but he knows it's only a matter of time.

"It was just fate that I turned on the TV when I did," he said. "(The anchorman) was talking, saying, 'If you've been a victim of a crime,' and right then the camera went to panning across the warehouse, showing hand tools, generators, power saws, tool bags. And there were my tools. And it was truly amazing."

Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at eraguso@modbee.com or 578-2235.

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