Friedman’s burglars make U-Haul getaway

Sonoma police are close to identifying the two suspects who broke into Friedman’s Home Improvement at about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday and sped away in a U-Haul truck partially filled with stolen tools.

The men are also linked to an attempt the next night, December 11, to break into the Café Mac computer store on Broadway Avenue.

Early Tuesday the U-Haul was reported driving out of the lot and over a landscaped embankment to avoid the locked gate. The truck nearly collided with another vehicle as it sped westbound on Napa Street. At about the same time, police were alerted by the store’s security alarm.

Officers found both doors of the store entrance wide open and sets of drills on the ground, according to Sgt. Spencer Crum. Once inside, the thieves quickly grabbed about eight drill kits and tools sets. The total value of the merchandise was under $2,000.

Likely spooked by the alarm and the close call with the other vehicle, the thieves took off before fully loading the U-Haul, Crum said. They were described as white males, about 40 years old, wearing jean jackets and beanie caps.

Their truck was found nearby on Pueblo Avenue. It was empty except for a pry tool, items of men’s clothing, and a Freidman’s sign that had been attached to one of the boxes. The stolen merchandise had been removed, Crum said, and likely loaded into a second vehicle.

Police believe the same men broke the back window at Café Mac at about 11 p.m. Wednesday night. The owner, Jim Witous, was in the store at the time, and told police the sound of breaking glass sounded like a car wreck. When he went to the back door to investigate, the two men ran off.

Descriptions of the burglars matched the Freidman’s suspects, who were seen by the passing driver and caught on store videotape.

Witous said the men took off in a dark Ford pick-up. Police found an empty black Ford F-150 parked nearby on Fryer Creek Road with its lights out and motor running. The license plates had been stolen in Sonoma and placed on the truck, which itself had been reported stolen in Vallejo.

The suspects remain at large as a CSI team combs over both vehicles for fingerprints. Meanwhile other clues, including paperwork left in the U-Haul, have police confident they are growing closer to requesting arrest warrants.


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