Day care’s stolen van recovered in Martinez Walmart parking lot

MARTINEZ, Calif. – A van stolen from a Concord day care center was recovered from the Martinez Walmart shopping center parking lot, Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal said. Concord Police said it still is searching for suspects in the theft.

The van belongs to Dianne Adair at Westwood Enrichment Center, at Westwood Elementary School. This is the second time the van has been stolen.

The van was taken nearly the same date last year, according to Concord Police. It later was found at a Bay Point apartment complex, but no arrests have been made in connection with that incident. Since then, the daycare operation has been plagued by gasoline siphoning at three of its sites despite having installed locking gas caps.

The latest theft of the daycare’s van happened about 2 a.m. Saturday, according to Concord Police. Two men were recorded by surveillance footage on the property about the time the van was driven off the property and onto Concord Boulevard, according to reports, although others suggested the thieves were a man and a woman.

Concord Police posted its theft report and a description of the 2006 Ford van on its Facebook page, asking the public to call Detective Dan Padilla with any tips. That posting paid off Sunday, when a caller notified Martinez Police about a similar van in the Martinez shopping center parking lot.

“Our Dispatch Center received a call from a person that saw the news about the stolen van on Facebook,” Sappal said. “They happened to see the van parked and called us.”

Officers found the van in the shopping center parking lot, Sappal said. “He said the van had been “cold plated – the original license plate had been replaced with a different plate, so an officer checking the plate would not be able to uncover it was stolen.”

Officer Cesar Ramos, who responded to the scene, realized the van indeed had been stolen, Sappal said. Ramos attempted to reach the daycare center, Sappal said. When he got no response, the van was towed.

Sappal said Concord Police is handling the original theft investigation, although Martinez Police dealt with the recovery and impoundment of the van. The daycare reported eight of 10 car seats were taken from the van and its ignition was damaged.

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