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Deputies search for Legion burglary suspects

The Madera County Sheriff’s Office is seeking suspects in a break-in of the local American Legion building, its second robbery this year.

“Something like this tears all these veterans up,” said American Legion Post 11 manager Ed Chacon. “They come here on a regular basis, you know, to see something like that happen to their home away from home.”

The burglary, which took place between 9 p.m. Friday and Christmas Eve morning, came after a previous break-in in April. The most recent break-in, according to Chacon, came when bolt cutters were used on locks at a front gate and on sheds. A hole was then cut in the southern fence, enabling the theft of lawn and maintenance equipment, along with propane tanks.

An examination by a Madera County sheriff’s deputy found more than one set of footprints in dirt at the site, suggesting at least two people were involved. Chacon also said that it is believed the suspects were the same people involved in the April break-in.

“They knew that the building itself is alarmed, so they didn’t mess with the building this time. They didn’t mess with our chair storage, the shed, because they knew there were only chairs in there.” The tools stolen most recently were given to them by the Home Depot in Madera, who donated them after the first burglary.

“Everybody here was all excited and happy about having them. (It was) such good equipment. It made the job so much easier,” Chacon said. “Because we do all our own maintenance here, our own yard work, and small repairs. We were feeling pretty good about all that.”

According to Chacon, it is believed it will cost Post 11 anywhere from $1,500 to $1,800 to replace the lost equipment. So the American Legion will hold a fundraiser barbecue on New Year’s Day.

Chacon said the first priority with the funds will be to pay for improved security in the building to prevent another break-in.

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