NORTH FORK – When Bob McKee returned home from work on Thursday, Jan. 24, he found his house had been broken into, his pickup stolen and his gate smashed as the thieves made their get-away from his property.
Bob called SierraNewsOnline to get the word out, and we posted the story and the photo of his stolen truck on the website and on Facebook.
The very next day, a Forest Service employee who had seen the post on Facebook, spotted the truck stuck in the mud near Grace Community Church, and called the cops.
When the sheriff’s deputy arrived on the scene, and Bob asked him how they had located the stolen vehicle, the response was “Facebook!”
Bob had nothing but praise for Deputy Eric Jackson of the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, who investigated the case.
“He did a great job, very professional, dusting for prints, checking everything out. He felt terrible for the invasion and empathized, a quality trait for an officer.”
The deputy also apologized for the delay in responding, as he had been answering a call about a missing child. “Way more important to all of us,” Bob acknowledges.
Along with his pickup, the thieves stole a digital camera, frozen meat from the freezer, some booze and a pillow case, ostensibly to haul away the loot.
“Thankfully the things taken were stupid things, a flannel pillow case to bag their stolen goodies, all my frozen organic chicken and hamburger, my Seagram’s 7 bottle of booze gifted from a customer for Christmas, and a bottle of JD. And, a half bottle of Drakkar cologne and my 10 year old digital camera.”
The crooks didn’t bother with his TV, electronic equipment or ham radio setup.
“They grabbed my very well marked keys for the Ford F-250 4WD off my key rack and stole my fairly new beloved truck. It was new to me anyway, and they crashed it through my security gate, totally mangling the gate beyond redemption, the most costly thing that happened during the break-in.
When asked if anything was left in the truck when it was located, Bob said, “The keys were missing; I have extras and will be changing out the ignition. There were things found in the truck that didn’t belong to me – a nice Buck Knife, a little plastic tool box, and according to the officers, lots of evidence regarding booze, probably my new, but now empty bottles of JD and Seagram’s. No digital camera or my organic frozen chicken and hamburger, or my blue flannel pillow case.”
Bob says he didn’t have much in the truck but a pair of gloves, of which one was recovered. The tool box in the truck bed, he believes still contains all of his bungee cords, tarp, and old hydraulic jack and lug wrench.
The cool thing about all this, says Bob, is how the community pulled together to help him find the stolen struck, which was discovered on a dirt road stuck in a mud bog by Grace Community Church. It was buried up to the doors in mud, and took the tow truck driver over two hours to extract it, and drag it over to Hanks Automotive.
The culprits are still unknown, says Bob. “Fingerprints revealed nothing, but after informing my neighbors of what happened and also to be more aware, one of them said they had observed a couple (man and woman) walking down the flume behind my place about the same exact time the gate was smashed through by my truck.”
Bob notes that he can’t go into any further details, as the break-in is still being investigated.
“This is my first break-in experience, and not something I want to repeat,” says Bob. “I let my guard down and became complacent living in what I considered a safe and quiet community. I just got careless not locking things up properly, and keeping keys on a visible key rack. You just don’t think of these things when you have lived in North Fork for a long time and enjoyed the safety and quiet.”
Now he’s dealing with insurance reports and declarations and adjusters to determine the cost to repair the mangled gate, and is anxious to get his rescued truck back from being evaluated at Hank’s.
Bob’s advice to his fellow townsfolk? “Lock everything up on your property, cars, sheds, and gates. Most thieves are totally lazy and take the path of least resistance.”
For the full story on the burglary, click here.