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Family had friend house sit during funeral — and came back to plundered home, Calif. cops say

Tyler Watson, the Oregon man pictured here, was house sitting for family friends in Lindsay, California, when he vanished with nearly all of their belongings and sold them off, deputies said.
Tyler Watson, the Oregon man pictured here, was house sitting for family friends in Lindsay, California, when he vanished with nearly all of their belongings and sold them off, deputies said. Tulare County Sheriff's Office

A California family got an unpleasant surprise when they returned from a funeral last month.

Almost everything in their house — their appliances, computers, TVs, tools and more — had vanished. They called authorities after discovering the theft from their Lindsay, California, home on July 1, according to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office.

Also gone? The family friend who had traveled all the way from Oregon to keep an eye on their home and take care of their animals while they were out of town, deputies said. The friend — Tyler Watson — had already made his way back to Oregon, deputies said in a news release on Wednesday.

Watson had also already sold off a good number of their belongings, deputies learned.

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An appliance recovered during the investigation. Tulare County Sheriff's Office

A welder that had been taken from their home was found at a local pawn shop, and the seller was identified as Watson, the sheriff’s office said.

That’s when detectives with the sheriff’s office’s Agriculture Crimes Unit started to get search warrants for Watson’s phone and internet accounts. From those, detectives learned that Watson had been selling the family’s household items to buyers through “mobile-driven marketplace applications.”

After tracking down the buyers, deputies said they managed to recover “a large majority” of what had been stolen. The buyers of the stolen goods — who had also been duped by Watson — were listed as victims in the sheriff’s office’s report, too.

The property has now been returned to the family, according to the sheriff’s office.

But what about Watson?

He has not yet been apprehended, but is wanted on warrants for grand theft, burglary and grand theft of a firearm, according to the sheriff’s office. Authorities in California said they’re working with Oregon law enforcement officers to arrest him.

He’s being sought in Salem and Independence, Oregon, according to the sheriff’s office.

Photos of some of the items that were stolen, which were released by the sheriff’s office, show a dolly, extension cord, wrenches, life jackets, appliances, electronics and more.

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