Big things seem to be going missing in Colusa County.
Farm and maintenance equipment, trucks, trailers, and a number of automobiles have been disappearing quite frequently in recent months, local law enforcement officials said.
“The county has been hit with a rash of stolen vehicle reports,” said Colusa Police Chief Josh Fitch. “As for the police department, we had three stolen vehicles reported in June.”
Fitch said that a vehicle that had been reported stolen from the city of Colusa was recovered in the Sacramento area, with a female suspect taken into custody. Additionally, a vehicle that had been reported stolen outside Colusa was later recovered within the city limits.
In Maxwell, a 2000 white International dump truck and 18-foot flatbed trailer were reportedly stolen from the Maxwell Irrigation District yard on July 19, officials said. That case is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.
The Colusa County Sheriff’s Office is also investigating three separate break-ins at the Maxwell Cemetery District maintenance shed over the course of three days last week. The district lost a compressor, a generator and other small equipment.
“We don’t really have anything left to steal but we don’t want people breaking in and doing any more damage to our equipment,” said caretaker David D’Ambrosio, who had metal plates installed on the doors last week so people can’t use a knife to slide back the bolts.
D’Ambrosio said people damaged an interior door in the last break-in. People have also left graffiti in the restrooms, which are only open during the day. He’s also noticed an increase in drug paraphernalia and garbage being left around grave sites from gatherings in the middle of the night.
While the loss of valuable equipment and vehicles is costly to owners and society, in general, reports of theft overall have not greatly escalated this year, officials said.
Colusa County Assistant Sheriff Michael Bradwell said that from June 1 to July 23, 2020, there were 56 reports of theft, up from 50 for the same time period in 2019.
The same, however, cannot be said for reports of vandalism.
“Vandalism has doubled,” Bradwell said.
Bradwell added that from June 1 to July 23, 2020 there have been 34 reports of vandalism, up from 15 for the same period last year.
“The majority of the vandalism has been to mailboxes and vehicles,” he said.
So far, the Sheriff’s Office has not identified any suspects to the rash of vandalism, but law enforcement believes they could be teenagers or young adults.
The most significant increase in vandalism has been reported in the Arbuckle area, but without suspects, Bradwell said it is hard to speculate the reason for the increase in vandalism, other than to say it was possible that the lack of activities due to COVID-19 may have something to do with it.
Bradwell also believes call volumes and call types have changed largely because more people are staying home.
“We have a reduction in some calls and an increase in others,” he said.
While the Sheriff’s Office has upped patrol, Bradwell reminds individuals to take preventative measures to protect their property, and that people be aware of their surroundings.
“If you see something suspicious, call,” Branwell said. “Everything helps and sometimes the smallest amount of information can lead to the biggest cases. As far as other measures to protect property, make sure vehicles and residences are secured. Appropriate lighting helps and in many cases surveillance systems can help with identification of and/or deterring criminals.”
In Colusa, Chief Fitch also reminds people to lock their vehicles and not leave them running while they are unattended. ■