ESPARTO (CBS13) – Crafty criminals are taking advantage of Yolo County facilities that are closed during the pandemic.
Investigators said Esparto Elementary School, middle school, and Esparto Community Service District were burglarized twice in the last month in the city, which is located west of Woodland along Highway 16. Esparto Little League has also been burglarized at least three times, according to authorities.
This crime of opportunity comes at the expense of local kids.
Deputies said the thieves are breaking open doors and gates, then putting them back in place so it looks like nothing happened. The damage isn’t discovered for days.
“Everything that they’re doing, they are taking from our kids and that’s the hard part,” said Brenda Harden, the Esparto Little League Secretary.
This thief has been at it for a month and people in Esparto are fed up.
“The first time we got hit was with our water heater in the snack bar. Which without that, our health permit is at risk,” Harden said.
The second time: “We got hit with our quad which we use to clean up our field out here,” she said.
The third time, Harden said the thief or thieves damaged property but didn’t even take anything. They’ve also ripped off nearby schools and city facilities.
“It kind of makes me angry and sad and wondering, why are they doing that?” said Gaven Stotts, a little league player.
The Yolo County Sheriff’s Office is putting out surveillance pictures showing a man suspected of these thefts and the getaway car.
View both in the photos below.
“Everything’s locked. Everything’s protected. We’re behind gates so it’s not like we’re careless about things,” Harden said.
Those responsible are targeting facilities that are closed as COVID-19 transmission surges.
“These are areas where under normal circumstances, there would be people there daily. The facilities would be being used and they’re primarily vacant,” said Lt. Matt Davis with the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office.
After COVID 19 took away their chance to play this year, the kids hope the thieves will rethink what they took.
“We want them to return it or give this stuff back to us because you’re hurting not just us but everybody,” Stotts said.
Anyone with information that may lead to the identification of the involved parties is urged to contact the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office.