A Tillamook Cheese sales tour caravan was disrupted when five of its vehicles were stolen from a Manteca hotel parking places Saturday with two of them being torched a day later by thieves.
The professionally restored Volkswagen buses are painted a bright orange and used for product advertising. They were part of a sales tour traveling from city to city.
Tillamook Cheese has posted a $10,000 reward for the return of the three VW buses.
The vehicles had been housed in a 40-foot-long cargo trailer parked at the Hampton Inn located at the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley near the 120 Bypass and Union Road interchange where the sales crew was spending the night.
Manteca Police officers alerted police agencies in the state, including the CHP, to be on the lookout for the vehicles.
Sometime between 12:30 and 6:30 a.m. Saturday, the trailer and its Ford 350 tow vehicle were taken from their parking spot with the mini-buses housed inside the trailer. CHP officers from the Sonora highway patrol office found the truck and trailer burning around midnight in Jamestown – after it had been torched – without the VW buses.
The vehicles were set afire in the area of New Peoria Flat and O’Bymes Ferry Road in Jamestown, according to Manteca police and the CHP.
Citizens reported seeing the vehicles near the Copperopolis Town Square earlier in the day before the fire apparently destroyed any evidence relating to the suspects involved in the theft. Coincidentally it was when they were watching the TV news that they saw the flames erupting from the truck and trailer.
All of the vehicles had been custom painted orange with the high profile “Tillamook” name emblazoned with white lettered logos. The cargo trailer had images of the three mini-buses displayed on its sides. One sales vehicle remained parked outside the hotel Sunday morning, but a truck and an SUV had been used to ensure its security and block its movement front or rear.
The Manteca Police Department is urging anyone with information regarding the theft and fire of the vehicles to call 209.456.8101.