MANTECA, Calif. Police in Central California located three bright orange Tillamook cheese vans that were stolen over the weekend.
"Late on Monday night, July 14, we were notified by the authorities working the investigation that our three Tillamook VW mini cheese sampling buses had been found by police in near original condition," the Oregon cheesemaker said in a statement. "We are thrilled with this news and extremely pleased to be able to recover our beloved cheese buses. At this point, the police are still working toward any arrests tied to this case, and the logistics and timeline for returning the recovered buses to Tillamook are still being worked out."
Manteca police said the restored Volkswagen minibuses, worth $100,000 each, vanished early Saturday from a hotel parking lot. They were secured in a trailer pulled by a Ford F-350 pickup that was also painted orange. Police say it appears that somebody drove off with the entire rig.
The Manteca Bulletin reports that the truck and trailer were found torched 50 miles east in the foothill community of Jamestown.
Police said the minivans had stopped in Manteca on a tour promoting the Tillamook County Creamery Association's dairy products.
Manteca police said authorities found the restored Volkswagen minibuses in a recently rented storage locker in Copperopolis around 8:30 p.m. Monday.
Authorities served a search warrant on the locker after a task force that includes the California Highway Patrol and the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office received a phone tip, Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion said.
The vehicles were in their original condition. Authorities have identified two suspects, though Obligacion declined to release their names or provide any information about their alleged connection to the thefts. He also would not elaborate on the tip authorities received.
"These are very specific vehicles. It wasn't a random theft," Obligacion said. "It is my belief that it was a targeted theft. They had seen these vehicles."