Local

Huge cache of stolen property found in Madera County

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Madera County Deputies have been sorting through tons of stolen property. It was all discovered stashed in several stolen trailers behind a home in the Madera Ranchos area. The cache included more than a thousand pounds of copper wire, along with welding equipment, generators, tools, computers, exercise equipment, TV sets, even a box of 200 wrist watches. All are believed to have been taken in burglaries from Visalia to Madera over the past year or so.

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said, "We're not sure if this was all stolen by someone living here or if this is a giant fencing operation."

A deputy driving by the house on Tuesday night spotted somebody in the back of the property burning the insulation off of wire. One man was arrested. He's identified as Wendell Ray Campbell. He lives in a trailer behind the house. Sheriff's Department Spokesperson Erica Stewart says investigators are looking for other suspects.

"With the vast amount of property the stolen goods on this property it's kind of hard to believe there's only one person involved." Stewart said.

Investigators have been able to connect many of the stolen items to their owners. Plumbing contractor Paul Thomas was surprised when investigators came up with about $2,000 worth of his tools which had been stolen from a job site in Sanger two weeks ago.

"This has happened so often to us and we rarely get a call like this." Thomas said. "It feels good to get them back, my insurance claim is just now being processed so they will probably be happy too."

Thomas and most of the others who came to the site complained they have been frequent targets of theft.

Electrical Contractor Bill Cleveland says he's lost a lot of valuable equipment, and supplies. "It's always copper wire, its tools, any type of recyclable material. Where somebody might take something in and get a 30 dollar recycle fee it probably cost 4 or 5 hundred dollars for that fitting."

As it turns out the only stolen property he was able to recover was a five gallon gas can.

Hard hit were PG&E workers. Several came here to claim wire, and tools stolen from their trucks.

Investigators expect to be working to sort and identify the property for the next couple of days.

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Tags:
madera, madera county, crimetracker, madera county sheriff department, madera ranchos, local, gene haagenson
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