Alert CHP officer recovers most stolen fireworks for Atwater Police Activities League

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The Atwater Police Activities League is working overtime leading up to the 4th of July after someone stole thousands of dollars in fireworks from their stand. (KFSN)

The Atwater Police Activities League is working overtime leading up to the 4th of July after someone stole thousands of dollars in fireworks from their stand.

Fireworks sales are the staple fundraiser for non-profit groups, like the Atwater Police Activities League (PAL). But the sales can feel meaningless once the volunteers become victims.

Early Thursday morning someone broke the lock on a storage container where the entire 4th of July inventory was supposed to be securely kept overnight.

"That's why we take such great care in packing everything up at night, reopening every morning to make sure that things don't get stolen, unfortunately that still wasn't enough for us," said Carolina Merez, Atwater PAL.

Merez says Atwater PAL is fundraising to build a new field for the city kids in the league.
But this theft set them back about $2,500. "All of that $2,500 can do a lot for these children."

More could have been lost -- including a massive box of fireworks worth $600.

An alert California Highway Patrol sergeant recovered the fireworks after spotting a label showing "Atwater PAL" in a car the crook ditched at 16th Street and Highway 59 in Merced. The car was left after a high speed chase, in excess of 100 miles per hour, that began when the sergeant tried to pull it over for driving erratically.

"When I found out that CHP and Atwater Police Department did such a great job getting back most of what was stolen, that was such a relief because what we've been out here working so hard for makes a difference to the community," said Merez.

The storage container sits in an empty lot across the street from the fireworks stand at the target parking lot just off the highway. And right here along Highway 99, the volunteers found some of the stolen fireworks stashed in the bushes. They are assuming the crook was going to return for them later.

"They were able to recover some of our fireworks, which was great. And then we came back and opened up to try to recuperate what we lost," said Merez.

The crook is long gone with no good description left behind. These volunteers will have to pay for the stolen items, but they hope sales in the days ahead of the holiday will cover them.
Related Topics:
merced county4th of julyfireworksthefthigh-speed chasecalifornia highway patrolAtwaterMerced
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