On Thursday, local Philanthropist and former CEO of Pelco, David McDonald, contacted Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.

He told her he heard in the news about three of our volunteers with the Search and Rescue Mountaineering Team who had their equipment stolen and he wanted to help them.  Mr. McDonald stepped up to donate $7,000 to the team, which will cover the costs to replace all of their missing gear.  He also expressed his deep appreciation for the work first responders do and how it’s important to make sure they have what they need to do their jobs.

Sheriff Mims and the entire Search and Rescue Mountaineering Team would like to thank Mr. McDonald and everyone in the community who donated to help our volunteers. The generosity is simply incredible.  

The following is a recap of what lead to this donation.

Last week, several volunteers with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Mountaineering Team were requested to redeploy to an ongoing recovery operation at the Camp Fire in Paradise (Butte County).  Their help was needed to continue searching through burned debris for the remains of people who are reported missing.  On Friday, November 23rd, three of our volunteers hit the road together in one vehicle.  During their drive north, they stopped around 6:00 pm to eat at a restaurant located at 2900 Countryside Drive in Turlock.  They were inside for about 30 minutes and when they returned to their SUV they found someone had broken out two windows and stole most of their rescue equipment.  They reported the total loss of approximately $7,000 to the Turlock Police Department.  Unfortunately, no known surveillance cameras in the area captured the theft and no suspects have been identified.  The investigation is ongoing.

The volunteers would be unable to perform their duties at the Camp Fire without this essential gear, so they were forced to return home to Fresno.  These volunteers are certified to work with the Sheriff’s Office, however, they are not county employees, so they pay out of their own pockets for clothing and supplies.  Thus, this theft was a huge financial loss to these three folks.  Not only are they now not equipped to help at the Camp Fire, they do not have the necessary gear to help our local community should an emergency arise.  

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Mountaineering Team operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  To learn more, go online to



Contact Information

Tony Botti
Public Information Officer
(559) 600-8137
(559) 977-0379
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