A man from Ballico walked into the Merced Sheriff’s Office lobby on Wednesday and reported that his 1955 Cessna 310 was stolen from the Turlock Airport. The man claimed that he was recently contacted by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stating that his plane was out of compliance, that it had been purchased and resold in 2009.
“The victim said he bought the plane in 2007 on the east coast and flew it to the airport in 2007 where he put it in a hanger,” stated Merced Sheriff Deputy Tom MacKenzie.
The Turlock airport is located approximately 8 miles east of Turlock, in Merced County, and is not surrounded by much more than agricultural land.
The bill of sale was dated in April of 2009 and appears as if someone flew the airplane out; sold it by forging his and his wife’s name on the bill of sale and the plane was again resold. The victim said he had not checked on the plane until he received a letter from the FAA stating he was out of compliance. The twin engine plane was worth about $25,000 according to the victim.
According to FAA, thousands of planes like this are stolen every year and flown to South America for drug trafficking. FAA is conducting their own investigation into the matter and the plane’s markings, serial and ID numbers have been entered into the national data base system for stolen property.
Updated information from the Merced Sheriff’s Office reported that Deputy Dave Verdaber did some follow up investigation on the stolen plan and found that it was sold to a company called Westside Ariel Applicators.
“After using the internet to research the company, it was discovered that the plan was parked at the Gustine Airport, chained to the ground,” said Deputy MacKenzie. “Detectives will do follow up investigation by contacting the company to see if we can discover who sold it to them and maybe identify the suspects who stole and forged the names of the victims.”