By Bryce Gaston
A manager at a local farm in Yolo County noticed that a water well on his property was vandalized and copper wires were stolen in the middle of the night. Expecting the thieves to return the next night, he organized a sting in order to catch them in the act.
In August of 2018, the manager of Bullseye Farms was training a new employee in the orchard fields when he noticed that one of the wells on the property was badly damaged. Upon closer inspection, he noticed that the well was torn apart and most of the copper wire used to power it had been taken. However, some of the wire had been left behind, so he predicted that the thieves may return for it.
He also noticed tire tracks leading up to the well and shoe prints that had distinct markings. Detective Thomas Hayes was notified of the incident and photographs were taken of the evidence, including the tracks and the damage to the well.
In an attempt to catch them, the manager set up two game cameras, typically used for hunting animals, near the well. The game cameras would be helpful, because they would be able to sense movement at night and take three still photos every 10 seconds, hopefully catching a glimpse of whoever was vandalizing the well.
Over the course of a few nights, the cameras took photos of a dark-colored van parked near the well and images of two human figures. Additionally, the cameras were time-stamped, so the manager was able to see that the thieves were consistently coming every night between 4:00-5:00 am, just before dawn.
The manager expressed that in order to find out who was destroying his property, he had to catch them in the act, so he decided to organize a sting. Since the thieves had been coming to the well around the same time every night for several days in a row, on August 30, 2018, he decided to hide out at 4:00 am and wait for them to arrive. He parked his car hidden beneath the trees in the orchard near the well and sat inside, looking for any suspicious activity. His coworker, who was helping him, hid his car in another location near the well and waited.
Shortly thereafter, they noticed a van driving slowly up to the well. The manager followed the van through the orchard, but the van was picking up too much dust, making it impossible to see. Unfortunately, the manager lost the vehicle, but he did manage to get a partial license plate number and noticed an Oakland Raiders sticker on the rear window.
He notified Detective Hayes of the new information he had obtained. In hopes of finding the culprits, Hayes went to Green Zone Recycling, a local business that recycles metal, including copper. In the parking lot he found a vehicle matching the suspect’s description and had another officer perform a traffic stop once it left the facility.
Sonny John Linard, the driver and defendant in this case, was found wearing shoes that visibly resembled the prints found at the scene. The two passengers were then searched and taken into custody.
After further investigation, the vehicle was found to be registered to Sonny Linard. Additionally, documents were recovered from Green Zone Recycling portraying Sonny Linard’s ID and a receipt of payment for bringing in multiple types of metal, including copper, for recycling.
The jury has yet to hear several more witness testimonies, and a decision is anticipated by Monday.