Surveillance Video Catches North Valley Crooks In The Act

Surveillance video provided by the Madera County Sheriff's Department shows a man buying cigarettes at a local convenience store. And in surveillance pictures, that same man is shopping with a woman at a local Home Depot.

Those creeps are on a shopping spree and it's all on "John Smith's" dime.

"They're up at one in the morning buying gas, so they must be partiers. They're buying cigarettes and tires and I guess hardware," Smith, who didn't want to use his real name, said.

They're also the people Madera County Sheriff's Deputies think busted into Smith's Madera Ranchos home while he was on vacation last week and had a free for all.

"They went through the two safes, one of them was bolted down; they got the big TV and some other smaller items," Smith said. "In 6 1/2 minutes, they kind of knew what they wanted."

It wasn't like John wasn't doing anything to protect his home before the burglary.

He has security cameras on his property and signs that say it.

Plus he has a gate to stop anyone from even getting onto the property.

But John can't help but feel like he should've done more.

"You go through it and you might blame yourself too for not doing more," he said.

But John isn't alone.

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson says they're seeing an uptick in crime like this in the Ranchos.

"It's a place where the homes, I think they're on a minimum of one or two or three acres out there. So they're not right together, like in a tract," Anderson said. "We've got a lot of repos out there, we've had them go into repossessed homes and steal the stoves and microwaves and all the furnishings out of there."

But lucky for them, crooks aren't known for common sense.

And the two who broke into Smith's home are no exception.

"Once we made a report on the stolen credit cards, as soon as they started being used, one place was Home Depot. They've got security cameras all over, so it was very easy to tie in the stolen credit card with who was using it," Anderson said. {}"If crooks were much smarter, our jobs would be a lot harder. These people do make it easier for us."

But it hasn't been easy for the Smiths who can't help but feel violated.

So if John could say anything to those thieves, it would be simple.

"Get a job," he said.

That surveillance video also caught the couple leaving in gray or silver-colored Jeep Grand Cherokee.

If you've seen the car or the couple, you're asked to contact the Madera County Sheriff's Department at (559) 675-7770.

In the meantime, Sheriff Anderson wants to remind people living in Madera County that the county has what's called a "house check" system, where people can call the sheriff's department if they know they'll be out of town and have a department volunteer check on their home until they get back.