At least 13 Ford trucks and vans — all work vehicles — have either been stolen or broken into in southern Sonoma County recently, prompting law enforcement to issue warnings to owners and step up investigation efforts.
Nine cases were from the Petaluma area and four from Rohnert Park, according to law enforcement.
The crew of thieves were especially active in Petaluma Wednesday night into early Thursday. That morning, police received five reports of stolen or burglarized Ford vehicles, Petaluma Sgt. Ken Savano said.
"We've contacted the auto theft task force to coordinate, identify trends and work collectively to combat the problem," Savano said Friday.
The crew of thieves strikes between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
They're finding their targets parked mainly on streets, both outside of homes and businesses.
Owners find their vehicles either gone, or still there but stripped of several thousand dollars' worth of tools and equipment.
Most of the stolen vehicles — predominently F-350 trucks and Econoline vans — are quickly recovered. They've been found along roads in Novato, Petaluma and Penngrove.
"They're stealing them, taking them to a second location where they empty the contents, then to a third location to dump the car. It's less about vehicle theft and more about stealing the tools," CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.
Victim Paul Ongaro is a contractor whose family plumbing, heating and cooling business lost two Ford vans full of equipment in the span of about a week.