pacc burglary

Officer Ben Mendoza collects the evidence Saturday. Somebody broke into the water station at Porterville Area Coordinating Council.

PACC devastated by overwhelming loss

Once again, thieves have plundered equipment and supplies used to help drought victims get water to their homes.

Sometime Friday night or early Saturday thieves broke into a Porterville Area Coordinating Council (PACC) warehouse in the 400 block of east Date Street, absconding with a water truck, tools, an air compressor, a pressure washer, cases of water and other items.

“I’m just sick,” said Elva Beltran, director of PACC. “These are the things we use to give water to our residents.”

The thieves cut through the chains securing the shed where the equipment was housed. “I asked the neighbors, but no one heard anything,” Beltran said.

The water truck is used to haul and install the 300-gallon water tanks to residents whose wells have gone dry and to deliver water to those without. It had tanks and tools in it when it was stolen.

The truck was found abandoned early Saturday morning near Hillcrest Cemetery along with some of the cases of water; however, tools and other equipment were not recovered. 

“I think they wanted it for the gas,” Beltran said. She said the thieves used hoses to siphon the gas out of the truck before abandoning it.

For nearly a year, PACC has been helping drought victims in the East Porterville area. More than 1,000 residents are without water and have been getting bottled water and water tanks from the nonprofit organization.

This isn’t the first time thieves have struck the area. Beltran said people keep stealing water and other items from the water station.

In February, about $1,000 worth of power tools, hand tools, plumbing fittings and other materials belonging to Self Help Enterprises, who was helping to install some of the first tanks and had its equipment housed there were stolen.

The Porterville Police Department arrested Julio Mejia for the February burglary. According to the police, items from the robbery were found in his possession, and Mejia allegedly confessed to his involvement. He was also found to be in possession of suspected burglary tools.

No arrests have been made on the recent theft.

“I’m just so upset,” Beltran said. “We were getting ready to take a week off because we’ve just been so overwhelmed with everything. But now we can’t.”

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