Historic cheese vans stolen in California found

MANTECA, Calif. — Three bright orange Tillamook cheese vans that were stolen over the weekend in Central California were located undamaged, police said on Tuesday.

Manteca police said authorities found the restored Volkswagen minibuses, worth $100,000 each, in a recently rented storage locker in Copperopolis around 8:30 p.m. Monday. They were stolen from a hotel about 50 miles away in Manteca, where they had stopped on a tour promoting the Oregon-based Tillamook County Creamery Association’s dairy products.

Authorities served a search warrant on the locker after a task force that includes the California Highway Patrol and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office received a phone tip, Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion said.

The vehicles were in their original condition. Authorities have identified two suspects, though Obligacion declined to release their names or provide any information about their alleged connection to the thefts. He also would not elaborate on the tip authorities received.

“These are very specific vehicles. It wasn’t a random theft,” Obligacion said. “It is my belief that it was a targeted theft. They had seen these vehicles.”

A truck and trailer that were part of the entourage were found torched earlier, police said.

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