MANTECA, Calif. -- Two suspects were arrested Tuesday after police found three stolen vintage Tillamook Cheese VW buses in central California, according to Charity Maness of the Copper Gazette.
The immaculately restored micro-buses with custom colors and branding had been stolen in Manteca over the weekend while on a tour promoting cheese in Sacramento, said company spokeswoman Tori Harms.
A truck and trailer used to haul them were found burning, but without the buses, about 50 miles from where they were last seen. The distinctive buses all have been shortened to more resemble a cheese loaf. They are 1959, 1964 and 1966 models.
The three buses were found about 8:30 p.m. Monday night by an auto theft task force serving a search warrant at B Secured Self Storage in the community about 50 miles east of Manteca, Maness told KGW.
Police opened a storage unit and found the vans along with other items belonging to the cheese maker.
Manteca police chief Nick Obligacion led the investigation, Maness said.
Obligacion said the buses appear to have been undamaged.
The task force included the Manteca, Stockton and Lodi police agencies, the California Highway Patrol, the San Joaquin Sheriff's Office, the Manteca District Attorney and the Manteca probation department, he said.
The chief put the value of the three buses at $300,000 but the company declined to state a value.
A 23-window 1963 VW bus was purchased for $217,800 at a 2011 Barrett-Jackson auction.
Tillamook County Creamery Association released the following statement Tuesday morning:
Late on Monday night, July 14, we were notified by the authorities working the investigation that our three Tillamook VW mini cheese sampling buses had been found by police in near original condition. We are thrilled with this news and extremely pleased to be able to recover our beloved cheese buses. At this point, the police are still working toward any arrests tied to this case, and the logistics and timeline for returning the recovered buses to Tillamook are still being worked out. As we await further information about the conclusion of the investigation, Tillamook would like to express sincere appreciation to the law enforcement agencies who have been tirelessly working this case over the past few days, as well as to all of the media outlets and loyal Tillamook fans that helped spread the word about our missing vehicles. While this kind of senseless crime is shocking and saddening, we are grateful for this happy ending.