By Laura Haefeli

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The clean-up is continuing from a costly vandalism spree that hit several South Sacramento businesses, including a church.

And we’re learning the suspect used a forklift to commit the crimes. The church is still adding up all the damage and hoping this vandalism won’t prevent them from continuing important work in the community.

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Bent metal, bolts ripped from the ground, and a 60-foot long tent torn to shreds. It’s the aftermath of a stolen forklift frenzy.

“I couldn’t believe it, why would somebody take a forklift?” said South Sacramento Christian Center Pastor Les Simmons.

Deputies say the vandalism spree started late Saturday night when the suspect stole a 20-ton forklift from a South Sacramento construction business. He’s accused of then taking it on a half-mile long joyride along Stockton Boulevard, causing thousands of dollars in damage

“When we got here we saw total destruction,” said Simmons.

The church was the hardest hit.

“At first I thought, ‘did somebody drive through in a big rig?’ And then we found out it was a forklift,” he said.

The suspect smashed through the church’s locked gate and then tore up the large vinyl tent they use for food giveaways, COVID testing, and vaccinations.

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“It’s not necessarily a hate crime, but it is an act of hate to come and totally destroy something,” said Simmons.

Businesses across the street were also damaged, including a nail salon whose rear door was struck, and a liquor store whose side gate was smashed.

“I knew something was wrong,” said Pavi Singh.

He saw the suspect driving the forklift recklessly and called 9-1-1.

“Going over the speed bumps fast, bouncing, making fast turns and stuff and he didn’t really know how to drive it,” he said.

Sheriff’s deputies eventually caught the suspect and took him into custody. It’s a costly crime for those now trying to clean up.

“I imagine this is going to have a price tag to it upwards 50-70 thousand dollars,” said Simmons.

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The sheriff’s office says they are still trying to verify the suspect’s identity.
He remains behind bars on felony vandalism charges.