Turlock’s representative on the County Board of Supervisors, Vito Chiesa, has become fed up with what he calls, “meth fueled” crime at his Hughson walnut orchard and in a larger picture — agricultural crime and the passage of Proposition 47.
Monday night criminals attempted to steal walnut burl from the orchard, only they left behind the fully running backhoe after Chiesa’s neighbor heard chainsaws in the middle of the night and confronted them.
Chiesa journaled his frustration on Facebook, “memo to the dirtbags who were trying to steal our walnut burl; come see me if you want your backhoe returned. I’ll be waiting patiently with the Deputy!”
It turns out the “dirtbags” stole the backhoe from a Hilmar construction site and it has since been returned to its owner.
Chiesa says that it was the second time his neighbor has scared off would be thieves, the third time thieves have left behind a stolen backhoe at the orchard, and at least the 10th time his family orchard has been stuck by thieves over the years.
He was obviously upset with the annoyance of the crime and sees it as a consequence of drugs, current policy and populace voting.
“90 percent of these people are stealing to feed a meth or drug habit. I feel sorry for the deputies who are put in a situation where they cite and release because of Prop. 47,” said Chiesa. “I was talking with Sheriff Adam Christianson a few days ago and since Prop. 47 he has released 200 people on what used to be felonies but are now misdemeanors. We keep releasing these people, property crimes are up and yet the jail is still at capacity so we aren’t even saving any money. I don’t know what can be done with these people. It has become a terrible nuisance and it affects the quality of life.”