Thieves strike Turlock city yard three times

TURLOCK -- Thieves hit the corporation yard last weekend making off with a $95,000 city work truck and chipper, police said Monday. The truck was found Saturday on Linwood Avenue, but the chipper, which Director of Municipal Services Dan Madden valued at $35,000, is still missing.

It's the third recent theft from the city yard.

A lock at the corporation yard was cut late New Year's Eve, said Lt. Fin Johnson, and a gas generator disappeared. Wednesday, city crews arrived at work to find a 1988 Ford F-150 pickup missing, Johnson said.

Late Friday night or early Saturday morning, the lock was cut again and a big Sterling work truck with the chipper attached was taken, along with a finance department cell phone taken from a city car, he said.

The pickup was recovered Monday night by the California Highway Patrol, also on Linwood Avenue, but near the 5000 block out in the county, Johnson said.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same folks," Johnson said. "They think it's easy pickings and they keep going back for more."

Maintenance equipment, city vehicles and relics, such as the $20,000 "Energy Burst" that once welcomed Highway 99 visitors to Turlock, are stored at the yard.

"It wasn't the first time, and it won't be the last as long as we have criminals out there," Madden said.

Municipal services is removing all manual gates from the yard, in favor of electronic card locks, and installing a motion detector wire in the perimeter fence.

The chipper is the biggest ticket item to go yet.

"I know we can't afford to replace one right now," Madden said. "There's no money in the general fund."