Theft recovery effort continues in Madera Ranchos

FRESNO, Calif.

"We have 50 plus and still we're still counting." Stuart said.

Steve Combs owns the "Energy House." He's had two burglaries in December and was called when deputies found some of his property.

"It was an exciting call this morning and no gold." He said.

Steve and his crew loaded up a truck with empty containers. But the valuable wire stored inside was gone, and the biggest missing item wasn't there.

"We had a really nice show tent an Opta-Dome. We paid about nine thousand for it we were going to use it at the home and garden show coming up we were hoping it was here but it's not."

Most of the stolen property here came from construction sites, and equipment storage yards. Contractor Bob Berry has been a victim.

"Where they came in a fenced yard at a construction site and they cut all the battery cables out of all the equipment one night basically for the copper and they probably got a hundred dollars worth of copper if they were lucky and it cost me $5 thousand by the time I replaced everything." Berry said.

Copper wire is the hot commodity and hard to identify. But tools and other equipment can be marked. Through a program called OAN, or Owner Applied Number, property can be securely stamped with an identification code. It may not stop the theft, but, Stuart said, "It makes getting your stuff back so much faster and so much easier."

One person has been arrested in connection with the stolen property. Wendell Ray Campbell was booked into the Madera county jail Tuesday night, but is now free on bond. He was employed by an area construction contractor.

The stolen property is being removed from the site and will be stored by the Madera County Sheriff's Department. Anyone who thinks their property could be part of that stash should contact the Sheriff's office. They also have information about the free OAN program.

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