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Can You Help Find This Painting?

Whites Locker 35 raid

Inside Oakhurst storage locker after break-in

Submitted by Oakhurst neighbors Mr. and Mrs. White

We were devastated to have our Oakhurst storage lockers plundered twice within a few days, in August, 2015. Although the burglar — a drug-addicted repeat offender — was soon apprehended, the sense of violation and loss continues to haunt us, especially since very few of our possessions were recovered.

The most shocking loss was of the painting depicted here. It was commissioned by my late father and is a large oil painting of the home he built and where my brother and I grew up, signed by the artist Carl Edwards. To anyone but family, it is just an ordinary scene, perhaps even a little boring and certainly not a thing of beauty. But to family, it’s a treasured heirloom that can never be replaced, due to all the memories.

Whites House large redwoods small

Stolen family painting the Whites are hoping to locate

If you see this painting, we would be most grateful if you would either drop it off at a law enforcement office such as the Madera County Sheriff’s substation in Oakhurst (located at 48267 Liberty Drive) or email editor@sierranewsonline.com to arrange for pickup or anonymous drop-off.

The smaller painting in the photo is of redwood trees behind the home, and painted by a now-deceased relative.

Whites Navajo

Navajo run stolen in storage break-in

The thief also stole the Native American rug depicted here, as well as the family flatware set: “Lyon stainless” is stamped on the back. None of these items are worth much to strangers. They were just a means to make a quick buck by a thief and his “fence.”

Whites family - Flatware Lyon fork sml

Pattern on stolen flatware

In total over 200 items were stolen. Among other things, all of our artwork, still in moving cartons, is gone.  This includes some large framed movie posters, approximately 48 x 36 inches in size: Jaws, Godfather, Pulp Fiction and Terminator, along with several Gram Parsons framed posters, several pictures (French and Egyptian) in gold-leaf frames, and framed music posters such as Fairport Convention, Ronnie Wood and Stax.

Again, if you’ve seen anything mentioned in this article, we hope you will let us know.

Things that we learned from this harrowing experience:

  1. Insurance

Renters insurance covered some of the financial loss but was far less accommodating than expected. Firstly, there is a deductible (two for us as there were two break-ins); secondly the insurance company will depreciate the value of every item; and thirdly they only pay a percentage of the depreciated value. If you later submit proof that you replaced some of the stolen items, they may pay more of the depreciated value. Taking an inventory required countless hours for each ransacking, as the thief left a terrible mess, dumped and trampled the contents of several boxes, having zero respect for anything but his own greed. And of course, a replacement value can never be established for sentimental items.

  1. Awareness of recidivism

A thief is likely to return to steal again, so don’t feel it’s over after you have been hit. In our case, it became apparent that the thief had taken an inventory of items during the first robbery, then returned to take more.

He plundered the lockers of other victims too. If he was not able to crack a combination lock, he cut off locks and replaced them with his own. At first this might sound puzzling, but people who use storage units might not visit theirs for months, so if a thief installs his own lock, he can keep returning until he has emptied the contents.

  1. Best lock to use

The best type of lock to use on storage units is a disc lock. How we wish we had been advised of this earlier! Disc locks cannot be removed using bolt cutters because the hasp (which is the “U” shaped part of a padlock) is designed in such a way that it cannot be reached by the blades.

  1. Tips for home security

For homes, always keep your doors locked and garage doors closed. Install a security system, security cameras and bright outdoor lighting. Secure your home safe. Thieves are now stealing safes, so these need to be properly secured. The best place to keep valuables such as coin collections, jewelry and important documents is in a bank safe-deposit box.

  1. No area is exempt

Do not assume your home or business is in an area that won’t be burglarized. Thieves will break into any place at any time the opportunity arises.


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