The blue pop-up canopy in a burned-out neighborhood just north of Santa Rosa wasn’t worth much.
But news of its theft Friday outraged fire survivors far beyond Larkfield-Wikiup, where the sun shade was a colorful symbol of hope and community.
The canopy, with its “Found Pets” placard and zip-tied photos of cats, was used to reunite families with lost pets scattered by the October wildfires.
Deputy David Higgenbottom was assigned to track down the man who stopped his red Ford pickup Friday on Old Redwood Highway, collapsed the canopy, placed it in the bed of his truck and drove away.
The theft was captured on a security video at a nearby business, giving Higgenbottom a start. He located the truck in the Sebastopol area and found the canopy and the suspect, who confessed, the Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Facebook post. The man, who was not identified, was arrested.
Members his family wondered aloud why anyone would even report such a minor theft. “We see it differently,” the Sheriff’s Office noted on Facebook.
“A man went into a tight knit neighborhood and in broad daylight made someone a victim that day. He went into a neighborhood of which residents lost every single thing they owned due to the fires,” the Facebook post stated. “Many residents held out hope that they would someday be reunited with pets that went missing after the fires. That canopy symbolized that hope.
“People who became victims of a firestorm of epic proportions were victimized once again by a man with no shame. If crime were measured on emotion alone, this was a big deal and the Deputies knew it.”