A Grinch emptied the MRPS Hall of gift items during the wee hours Saturday morning leaving little behind for the more than 20 vendors to sell during the three-day holiday boutique that started Friday and was to run through Sunday.
It was estimated by vendors that the theft reached into the thousands of dollars. Vendors scrambled to restock their booths for Saturday sales at the MRPS Hall at 133 N. Grant St.
Event chair Jody Correia said her sister Gerry had opened the hall at about 9 a.m. Saturday and discovered the mass theft that included a full display of jewelry on the back wall. Two large garbage cans were also missing and believed to have been use to gather the many items from the booths that had been set up for the first day on Friday.
“It was horrible,” she said, adding that a transient male was seen coming into the hall Friday night and acting like he was “scoping the place out.”
Manteca Police officer Steven Smith responded to the theft call and began his investigation by giving all the vendors plain sheets of paper and asking the boutique merchants to list an inventory of what they were missing that may have been taken the night before in the hall. A security light bulb was also taken from the ceiling of one of the restrooms.
Correia said that one vendor had their van parked up against a wall of the MRPS and heard noises about 3 a.m. Saturday, but being half asleep they didn’t leave their vehicle to investigate the source.
The boutique sponsors said they had checked all the bathrooms for lagging individuals before they locked up Friday night and found no one, adding that no money had been taken during the thefts. A few of the vendors had taken their items home just to be safe from any possible thefts.
It was a mystery on how the thief or thieves got into the building with the locks having just been changed and with no signs of forced entry into the hall.
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