Stolen Clovis church trailer recovered in Fresno County

April 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A complicated heist targeted a Clovis church last week, forcing its congregation to change the way they worship. But by Tuesday night, the congregation is celebrating.

Thieves stole a trailer from a parking lot on Gettysburg in Clovis. Inside was everything the Loma Vista Community Church needed to conduct its services. But Tuesday afternoon, the trailer was found in East Fresno County at Clinton and Highland.

It was lost but now it's found. A Clovis Unified employee found the trailer on a nearly empty lot. The crooks tried to scratch off the Loma Vista logo, an they sifted through some crates, taking nearly everything of value. But the pastor says it's great to have everything else coming home.

Overturned crates and scattered papers may appear to be a mess, but they're a blessing to Joe Lavagnino of Loma Vista Community Church. The pastor is seeing his church's equipment again for the first time in more than a week. Thieves used a torch and a specialize truck to steal the trailer holding all the church's equipment.

"It's shocking that something like this would happen to you," Lavagnino said. "You always think it won't happen to you. When it does, reality hits."

A sound system, media system, nursery area, and even 100 Bibles all stolen in one brazen crime. Loma Vista stores the trailer at it's offices near the Sierra Vista Mall, but does it's services at Reyburn Intermediate School. Sunday's worship was in a sparsely decorated cafeteria, but Lavagnino says it left the congregation joyful.

"Our people were saddened, but they realized this is the reality of life," he said. "But the essence of our church is not equipment, it's the people an that was just a very real reminder of who we really are."

And now the 400 church members have another reason to be joyful. Their trailer is returning, minus some valuable equipment, but with much sentimental value still intact.

"It's a blessing," Lavagnino said. "We're still going to have to rebuild an awful lot. I'm just still trying to absorb it."

Clovis police are investigating the grand theft. They dusted the trailer for fingerprints and will try to track down the stolen items, hoping that can lead them to the thieves.


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