A flat tire led to metal theft arrest in Merced

FRESNO, Calif.

District officials are glad to have these stacks of aluminum benches back on campus. Travis Kirk works for the district and says the metal stolen from Golden Valley High School was intended to help build a brand new state of the art sports stadium.

"When you see that someone steals from that, that's a sad thing because really this community is pulling together to support facilities like this in our district. And it's sad and it's disappointing." said Kirk.

Officers arrested Mark Elder Wednesday morning after a detective found him trying to fix a flat tire at this intersection in Merced. Investigators say the detective noticed insulated wires and aluminum in the bed of his truck that looked suspicious.

"Being a good detective understanding that type of stuff is usually salvaged or stolen, turned in for money. Started doing a little more investigation and found that the individual was in possession of stolen property. Turns out it came from Golden Valley High School." said Lt. Tom Trinidad.

Merced Police say elder took $10,000 dollars worth of material from the school. And although those items are now back ready to be used to build bleachers, district officials fear others may have stolen items from them as well.

"I don't know that they've recovered all, and they're still in the process of inventorying what is here and what's lost. The other challenge is that this material is coming from Texas so when they do have to order something it's a long wait time. Hopefully that doesn't delay the ribbon cutting project." said Kirk.

And construction on the multi-purpose stadium is expected to be completed by the end of the summer. Meanwhile Elder is charged with grand theft and receiving stolen property. Police did not elaborate as to how he was able to get the metal in the first place.

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