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Thieves steal furnishings worth $100,000 from homes

Burglars broke into seven new North Merced homes, taking about $100,000 worth of items from the unsold residences.

Merced police Sgt. Jay Struble said the burglaries took place some time between Friday and Wednesday afternoons in the Riverstone subdivision of Bellevue Ranch, at Bixby and Bancroft drives.

Appliances, furniture, towels, bedding and miscellaneous home decorations were stolen from three model homes. Three completed homes that had not been sold had garage-door opener units stolen and all the kitchen appliances, including a dishwasher, microwave and stove, were taken from another completed home. A washer and dryer were also removed from another home, Struble said.

Cmdr. Floyd Higdon said police will need the public's help in solving this crime. Anyone who might have seen a strange pickup or other vehicle driving in and out of the subdivision is asked to call the department with information. People may call Sgt. Scott Skinner at (209) 385-4702 or the tip line at (209) 385-4725.

Lt. Bimley West, who heads the Investigations Division, said the burglaries are "a pretty sad thing." He said a great deal of property was taken and officers will step up patrol in the area.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or