Brazen break-in at business off Interstate 80 in Auburn

Sundowner Trailers struck overnight Monday and May 23
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Thieves drove off Interstate 80 and cut a wire fence before making off with two riding lawn tractors from an Auburn business sometime overnight Monday. Sundowner Trailers co-owner Craig Daniel said Tuesday that it appeared someone with a truck was able to leave the westbound freeway, back up against a Caltrans fence, cut the wire and drive off with two small tractors worth $2,000 apiece that were parked on the other side. Sundowner was also hit by thieves using the same technique overnight May 22. Two small tractors were stolen in that break-in, bringing losses to close to $8,000. ?It think it?s pretty bold,? Daniel said. ?They were right on the side of the freeway.? Daniel said that he?s now moving tractors and other equipment away from the area where the thefts took place, losing valuable freeway exposure but possibly preventing another theft. ?We had to clear them out because they keep stealing them,? Daniel said. ?You pay for all the frontage and then you can?t use it.? Daniel said he has no idea who would be systematically taking the tractors. ?I wish I knew,? he said. Sundowner has been at the Hilltop Drive location for a dozen years and has had one similar break-in several years ago, Daniel said. A Caltrans crew was at the scene of the crime Tuesday to repair the fence. The thieves had likely cut the fence with bolt cutters and then peeled it back to allow easy access, said Mike Alexander, lead worker in Auburn with Caltrans. Alexander said the fence cutting theft was not unique ? particularly when it comes to theft of copper wire. ?We try to keep people out but this happens all the time,? Alexander said. ?When people are motivated, it?s hard.? Caltrans is now considering trimming trees on its right of way at the side of westbound I-80 to provide a clearer view from the freeway of the fenced area the break-in took place at, Alexander said. Another possibility that would need approval from Caltrans engineers would be to add large rocks to the area in front of the fence to keep vehicles from getting too close, he said. Placer County Sheriff?s Office spokeswoman Dena Erwin said Tuesday that an investigation is continuing into both thefts.