Chester: Vandalism to local business tops $3 million mark
The latest round of vandalism in Chester occurred sometime between Saturday night and Sunday, July 16 – 17, and it packed a devastating punch to the community.
The victim of the crime was Sierra Cascade Aggregate & Asphalt Products, LLC, a business owned and operated by Caleb and Kacie Holland.
On scene July 19, Plumas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) Investigations Division Sgt. Steve Peay said he and Reserve Deputy Nick Dawson were first called to the 6600 Old Ski Road location at approximately 9:30 a.m. Sunday, July 17.
Describing what was found at the crime scene, Peay said, “Unknown subject(s) used an on-site bulldozer to push the independent pieces of the crushing, screening and washing operation and conveyor belts together and down to the edge of the pond.”
Peay said he and Dawson met with Caleb Holland that same morning. He also said Holland had estimated the damage (loss value) at $3 million.
Peay returned July 19 to Chester to interview the company’s employees.
“Because of the amount of damage, it takes it up another notch over the average vandalism,” Peay said. “This is the highest damage amount to any case I’ve ever worked.”
As to what is actually known at this point, Peay said, “The case is under investigation, no details can be released.”
He suggests that any person having information about the vandalism should call PCSO Investigations at 283-6363. He said callers could leave an anonymous message at that department number.
Manager Ruth Broussard echoed his plea for community assistance, “If you had ridden your quad or walked your dog in the area and heard the loud sound of screeching metal from that night or early morning, please call.”
She said the crew had left the work site at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night and that the vandalism could have occurred anytime after.
Continuing as the company spokesperson Broussard said the vandalism created immediate and widespread damage not only to the company itself but also to the employees and the community as a whole.
“The company employs about 60 local workers and some are currently without work because of the destroyed equipment.
“It impacts every one of his (Holland’s) employees whether they work in the pit or the road crew. People can’t work because what they used to do has been destroyed, such as driving the loaders,” Broussard said.
The immediate impact felt by the company includes the major Caltrans jobs it is working.
“We were in the middle of making rock for our Caltrans jobs. We are in the process of doing overlays in Plumas and Lassen counties. This also affects other companies who have contracted to purchase their materials out of our gravel pit,” Broussard said.
She made it very clear that the company might be down for a bit but that it is working on a plan of attack right now.
“We are going to clear the mess and then determine which equipment needs to be replaced and set up,” Broussard added. She said Holland would have to bring in rented equipment to get the company through the summer. The estimated cost to rent will be extremely high.
As to the damaged equipment, she said the wash plant was brand new along with many of the components.
She added that aside from the initial crush of the equipment devastation, the incident has produced its fair share of heartbreak.
“What we had done was line up all the equipment; it used to be scattered in its set-up. We had lined up everything and it was connected to one another. We could produce 11 different rock products. It took two full months and thousands of hours in labor and components to perfect the system,” Broussard said.
The insurance adjuster was due on site July 19. After that inspection Holland and company will learn what equipment they can expect reimbursement for.
Caleb Holland is offering a $3,500 reward to be paid upon identification and conviction of the suspect.