Several items were damaged or stolen at an Atascadero storage yard early Saturday morning.
"They used a pry bar to pry these bins open and they stole all of our tools," Steve Carlson, owner of S Carlson’s Plumbing, said pointing at his damaged work truck.
The storage yard Carlson shares with two other contractors is surrounded by fencing topped by bar wire and lined to prevent climbing. But it didn’t stop thieves from finding a way in.
"They cut the Cal Trans fence," Carlson said, standing next to a wide hole in the fence separating Highway 101 from the next door property. "They cut the hole through my fence and they were in."
The thieves didn’t stop there, though. Carlson walked across the storage yard to the front gate.
"They took the arm off of the gate and then they somehow broke the magnet loose that holds the gate shut," he said.
Then the thieves went for it all.
"They took and they cut the actual piece on the container," Carlson said holding the broken lock of a storage container. "The tools out of three of my trucks have been taken. There’s probably twenty to $25,000 worth of tools and equipment that were stolen."
That was only Carlson’s loss. The two other contractors were hit as well.
"I had five cut off saws, I had a big-brick saw, I had four or five grinders, I had four rotary hammers," explained Darin Van Deventer, owner of Masonry by Darin. "I lost $20,000 worth of tools."
Can Deventer’s truck window was broken open, setting off the alarm. He and Carlson believe it caused the thieves to drop or scatter some of the tools they were trying to steal.
"By the looks of it they ran back out on the freeway, some of them took off that way and whoever was driving took off through the gate," Van Deventer said.
Between the three contractors, the stolen tools, equipment, and damage to trucks cost somewhere around $100,000.
Detectives with the Atascadero Police Department took fingerprints from dropped tools and busted truck doors, and marked evidence in the yard to map out the scene. Van Deventer and Carlson say the APD Crime Scene Unit spent six hours canvassing through the storage yard.
Even with a report made and investigation open, the contractors aren’t sure of the outcome.
"They said the odds of finding this stuff was very slim, they normally don’t find it, they normally don’t catch the people," Van Deventer said.
And the theft will cost the contractors more than just replacing and fixing the damage.
"I have 10 employees that have Monday off cause I have to go get certain tools to even work on Tuesday now," Van Deventer told KSBY.
The contractors have put up a reward of $10,000 for anyone that can lead police to those involved in the theft and can help get any or all of the tools returned. In the meantime, new security cameras will be installed around the yard and the broken gate and fences are being repaired.
If anyone has any information on this crime, or can spot looks like one of the stolen tools, call Atascadero Police.