One of two men wanted for the burglary at the Turlock Veterans of Foreign War Post 5059 hall has been apprehended, but the second suspect remains unidentified and at large.
The VFW hall at 1405 E. Linwood Ave. was broken into around 3 a.m. Tuesday by two male suspects. From the video surveillance investigators with the Turlock Police Department were able to identify one of the burglary suspects as Ricky Dean Beets, Jr., 32, and issued a warrant for his arrest.
Thursday afternoon officers with the Oakdale Police Department stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation and found Beets in the car, said Turlock Police spokesperson Officer Steve Rodrigues. A check of his identity showed that he had a warrant for his arrest and he was taken into custody.
Beets was arrested on suspicion of burglary and possession of stolen property. As of Friday he remains in custody at Stanislaus County Jail in lieu of a $21,000 bail, according to jail records. At the time of his arrest, Beets was out on bail for charges of vehicle theft, reckless driving, possession of a stolen vehicle and attempted burglary.
The second suspect from the burglary remains a mystery and investigators are hoping someone may have information as to his identity.
The two thieves made their way into the VFW hall by ramming open a gate with a stolen truck. They then pried open a metal door and went about trying to take the automatic teller machine, which was bolted to the ground.
In their first attempt they wrapped a cable around it and tried to pull it loose using the truck. The attempt didn’t work and the two men left, only to return about 10 minutes later with some tools. The second attempt was no more successful than the first and the thieves had to settle for stealing some vintage rifles and alcohol. However, the failed attempts at stealing the ATM caused quite a bit of damage in the hall’s cantina, which club officials estimated was in the thousands of dollars.
The rifles have not been recovered, Rodrigues said.
The Veterans of Foreign War organization got its start in 1899 when servicemen returning from the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection realized they would need to band together to get access to benefits, pensions and medical care. From that time, the VFW has grown into an advocate for veterans by lobbying for their rights and benefits.
The news that thieves had specifically targeted an organization known for its service to veterans upset many in the community, including city officials.
"The VFW Hall represents the sacrifices of our Turlock veterans, so this theft is especially troubling and violating," said Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth. "Turlock stands firmly behind our men and women in uniform. This crime does not reflect the respect our residents have for their service.
"I'm very proud of the police department for acting quickly and decisively, and I'm thankful that the community came together to help our officers identify and arrest the suspects," Soiseth continued.
While the identity of the second suspect still remains unknown, the police department is cautioning the public from approaching him, should he be recognized by someone. Instead, the police department asks that anyone with information about the identity of the suspect to contact Detective Jason Tosta at 668-5550 ext. 6624, or anyone spotting the suspect to call police dispatch at 668-1200 for immediate assistance.