Talk about proactive police work.
The Merced County Sheriff's AG STAR detectives caught an alleged thief before the theft was even reported.
They were following up another investigation in the area of south Atwater when they saw Jason Vann, 38, pulling a 1950s model Ford 641 Work Master tractor on a trailer heading into a metal recycling shop, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie.
The detectives, who were familiar with Vann, ran a license check on him and found out he was driving on a suspended license and had a misdemeanor warrant, authorities said.
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Vann said he had gotten the tractor from a man in Catheys Valley, but couldn't provide details. Vann was cited and released on the warrant and traffic charges, and the tractor was held at the scrap yard until further investigation could be conducted.
The next day, June 18, the owner of the tractor called to report that it had been stolen. The owner met Detective Brandon Thomas and confirmed it was his tractor. The victim said he had bought the tractor for $300, but refurbished said it could be worth $5,000. The tractor was stolen from a barn in the 8000 block of Shaffer Road, MacKenzie said.
Thomas obtained an arrest warrant for Vann and contacted him by phone. Vann agreed to turn himself in for the theft of the tractor. On June 21, Vann surrendered himself to AG STAR and was booked on possession of stolen property. He's already made the $25,000 bail.