NORTH FORK – When Amy Kern and her family were evacuated from Cascadel Woods during the Willow Fire it was very stressful for everyone, not knowing if they would have a home to return to. But what they found when they came back this morning was something they could never have imagined.
Their home – along with at least four others nearby – had been broken into, thousands of dollars worth of items, some terribly sentimental, had been stolen, and their house had been ransacked.
It appears the perpetrator(s) crawled in through their doggie door.
“We have fairly large dogs, so a smaller person could fit through,” says Amy Kern, who returned this morning with her husband and four kids, ages 3 to 19.
Though evacuations were lifted at 9 p.m. last night, the Kern family waited until this morning to come back to their home on Vista Drive in the Cascadel Woods neighborhood.
“I’d had surgery and my husband has a broken back, so we came home this morning because we didn’t want to rush in through a bunch of people in the dark,” says Amy.
Upon arrival, they found a shocking scene. Jewelry, a PlayStation, an Xbox, video games, knives, multiple bottles of expensive wines and alcohol, and Amy’s change jar had been stolen, along with many other items. Also missing was a crossbow given to her husband by his father before he passed away.
“They went through everything,” says Amy. “They rummaged through all of our cabinets, all of our closets, all of our dressers – they pulled stuff out of the drawers and threw it on the floor.”
When Amy’s daughters, Madison and Samantha, ages 3 and 5, went to their bedrooms, they were devastated to discover that the criminals had not spared them either. Both of their piggy banks had been stolen.
The burglars also took their suitcases and apparently used them to load up all the family’s belongs to carry them away.
“It’s sad to think of us as a tight community where our children all play and run around together,” says Amy, “and to have somebody do this while we’re all evacuated, and the danger of everything else going on.”
Amy says the sweet lady across the road had a necklace stolen that her husband had given to her before he passed away.
“They came in, they turned on all the lights in our house, and when they were done, they walked out the front door and left it unlocked,” says Amy. “Pretty brazen.”
Sheriff’s Office investigators came this morning to take reports, photograph the scene and collect evidence. Now the Kern family can only wait and hope that someone will come forward with information, or that evidence taken from the house will provide some clues.
Investigators believe that the suspects were “almost certainly on foot,” as there were 24-hour roadblocks and patrols in the area.
“We really should be all sticking together and helping each other and having each others’ back and protecting each other,” she says of the notion put forward by the Sheriff’s Office that it could have been someone in the community who stayed behind and refused to evacuate. “To have somebody going though and doing this is just wrong on so many levels.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Madera County Sheriff’s Office at 559-675-7770.