Fresno County Sheriff’s detectives today announced the arrest of a Fresno County man in connection with several burglaries that occurred late last year and earlier this year. Arrested was 30 year old Stephen Bookwalter.
In November of last year, two separate burglaries occurred at the United State Forest Service’s helitac base located on Maxon Rd near Trimmer Springs Rd in eastern Fresno County.
In the first burglary, over $20,000.00 worth of property was stolen including several chainsaws, shop tools, and shop equipment. Two days later, the suspects struck again, stealing a 65 inch television, and brand new upper assemblies from 26 Ar-15 rifles, all worth over $23,000.00.
Detectives had no leads until January of this year when the suspects struck again. On January 18th, the suspects vandalized a vehicle on the USFS property and stole gasoline. On January 27th, the suspects returned and stole an employee’s truck. Video surveillance caught the suspect enter the property on a motorcycle, load it into the bed of the truck, and drive away.
Two weeks ago, USFS employees driving in the 12500 block of E Ashlan Ave observed the stolen truck parked on the property of a nearby residence. They, in turn, contacted the Sheriff’s Office. Armed with a search warrant, detectives responded to the location.
During a search of the residence and surrounding property, several items of the stolen property, including the stolen truck, was recovered. Also recovered was stolen property taken from two recent commercial burglaries, both which occurred on E Shields Ave. The stolen property included three stolen motorcycles, a shotgun, and a quad runner reported stolen in South Carolina in 2013.
Bookwalter was arrested at the residence and later booked into the Fresno County Jail on four counts of commercial burglary, possession of stolen property, vehicle theft, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The investigation is continuing and there may be more arrests. Detectives are still trying to locate the stolen rifle parts and are asking anyone with information to please contact the Sheriff’s Office at 600-3111, or CrimeStoppers at 498-STOP(7867).