NORTH FORK – Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a break-in at a home on Road 222, just south of Hanks Automotive in North Fork.
Bob McKee, owner of North Fork Hardware, returned from work at about 5:15 p.m., on Thursday, Jan. 24, to find that someone had broken into his house, stolen his pickup and smashed through his gate when they exited his property.
Sheriff’s deputies believe there may have been two individuals involved in the burglary. McKee’s home is about 50 feet from a flume that runs just south of North Fork and deputies found footprints leading away from the area towards McKee’s house.
There were two sets of footprints in the mud, one judged to have been made by a pair of boots, and one by a pair of tennis shoes. There was also a heavy black nylon jacket left hanging on the side of the flume.
The thieves broke through the pantry door at the back of the house, where they found a rack of keys hanging on the wall, each key labeled. It wasn’t difficult to find the key to the truck.
“The only things they stole were a old digital camera and a bunch of organic chicken and hamburger from the freezer,” said McKee. “I have a whole room full of ham radio equipment, but they didn’t take that or even the TV.”
The burglars apparently removed a flannel pillow case from the bedroom, after rummaging through the closet, and loaded their loot into that before making their getaway in the pickup, which had been recently purchased by McKee.
Stolen was a 1993 Ford F250 XLT, white with a large blue stripe down the side. The truck sits very high off the ground and has an 8-foot bed, with “4X4” on the side near the rear. McKee had also installed a black ABS tool carrier in the bed. License plate number is 5D32770.
The thieves then used his truck to smash through the gate to his property, which was secured with a chain and padlock, and made their escape.
“The most expensive part of this whole thing is that gate,” said McKee. “That’s about a $5,000 gate.”
McKee reports that the tire tracks looks as though they headed down the Auberry road, south on Road 222.
The break-in took place some time between 7:45 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Jan 24.
McKee says he had seen a suspicious character hanging around outside his property when he left for work about two days ago, and had even notified his neighbors to keep an eye out.
He says the guy was wearing a multi-colored jacket, had long scraggly hair and a beard and was picking up recycle stuff. He felt the guy was scoping him out and checking out his routine, but also says it could just be a coincidence.
“I’ve been safe here for 10 years, and wasn’t really to concerned about this type of thing,” said McKee. “You just don’t think too much about it. The only way for anyone to really see my house would be people walking along the flume, which just doesn’t happen that often.”
CHP and the Madera County Sheriff’s Office are on the lookout for the pickup, and anyone with information is asked to call the Madera County Sheriff’s Office at 559-675-7770.