BASS LAKE — A stolen family golf cart affectionately dubbed “The Green Machine,” has been recovered by Madera County Sheriff’s deputies.
However owners Chad and Denise Gregerson are more than a little distraught over the complete destruction of what was a beloved family possession, lovingly restored after being rescued from the weeds.
At about 1:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16, Chad got a call from the Sheriff’s Office that their cart – which was stolen during a residential burglary at their Bass Lake home in January – had been located, and that they had two suspects in custody.
The Green Machine is a fully restored 1983 Yamaha G-1 Golf Cart that is well-known in the Bass Lake neighborhood, and a few years ago was featured in the Bass Lake Christmas Parade of Lights. The family was heartbroken when it was stolen out of their ransacked garage.
So when the early morning call came in, Chad headed down to the Gas ‘n Stuff in North Fork to meet with deputies, and confirm that the cart was his. Any excitement at recovering it was quashed when he arrived.
“The guy had meth, weed, a shotgun, a large knife, tons of tools… and my stolen golf cart in his truck,” says Chad. “He had virtually destroyed the cart; tried to paint the entire thing including the wheels, seats, steering wheel, etc., in an attempt to disguise it. I have the cart now but have yet to assess if it is salvageable.”
Andrew Chase Gaylord, 27, of North Fork, was arrested along with Heather Jean May, 36, of Springville, and both were taken to the Madera County Department of Corrections. Gaylord was charged with possession of stolen property and felon in possession of a firearm. Deputies found a short-barreled shotgun when they arrested him, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and May had outstanding warrants for traffic offenses. Both bailed out of jail within hours of their arrest.
Gaylord has been arrested at least six times since October 2011, charged with numerous crimes including receiving stolen property, burglary, possession of paraphernalia, petty theft, resisting arrest and providing false information to police, possession of forged notes, and peeking into homes.
“The worst part of all of this is that these two only spent 5 hours and 23 minutes in jail and are now back out on the street!” says Chad. “He was literally out of jail before I even got back home after a night of no sleep.”
The Sheriff’s Office shares the frustration of the Gregersons and others who are the victims of crime, but note that what happens after they make an arrest is out of their hands.
“There is a set bail schedule, and if the persons arrested have access to funds and can make bail, they will be released,” says Lt. Bill Ward of the Madera County Sheriff’s Office. “It is then up to the District Attorney if charges are filed.”
The release of suspects is at times based upon the current capacity of the county jail to accept new inmates.
With the passage of AB109 in 2011, Public Safety Realignment allows non-violent, non-serious, and non-sexual offenders to serve their sentence in county jails instead of state prisons. This means that county jails have taken on the burden of many inmates who, before realignment, would have gone to state prison.
“This has significantly impacted law enforcement, and decreased their ability to house persons newly arrested,” former Madera County District Attorney Michael Keitz told SNO back in 2013. “Many defendants who would normally be sent to state prison, such as probation and parole violators, are now mandated to be held in our county jail. We have had to house inmates beyond the jail’s design capacity, and release inmates who would have not been released were it not for overcrowding.”
Meanwhile, the Gregerson’s have small comfort in the recovery of their beloved “Green Machine.”
“We are glad that we know what happened and who broke into our house but at the same time we are disgusted in that our justice system allows this guy back out on the street,” says Chad. “Imagine if we or someone else caught him in the act? He is an armed and dangerous felon that is out and free to do whatever he wants and if someone runs into him during one of his break-ins and he is armed and high on meth…. very scary!”
According to his booking information, Gaylord was not charged with the break-in, only with being in possession of the stolen property, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He claimed he bought the cart for $200 from someone else. The Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the case.
Gaylord is scheduled to appear in Bass Lake Superior Court on Mar. 15.
Calls to the District Attorney about this case have not been returned.
To read the story of the Green Machine, click here.
(Photos courtesy of Chad Gregerson)