By Ron Brown
MONTAGUE, Calif. — County, state and federal authorities are investigating what may be one of the highest-dollar vandalism cases in Siskiyou County history. Several airplanes were broken into, and at least one started-up Sunday night or Monday morning, resulting in major damage to at least two of the planes.
Two Cessna airplanes, one a twin engine, and a smaller high-wing single-engine Cessna, were found early Monday morning both tangled in what authorities say may have been an attempt to steal the larger plane. In addition, at least two smaller planes and this glider were broken into, and in some cases, electronic equipment damaged or stolen.
According to a pilot here at the field who did not want to talk on-camera, it appears that this Cessna 402 was started up – at least one engine was started – and the chains that were holding it down were released. The plane pivoted around and ran right into the other little Cessna, knocking it off its blocks and from its tie-down point.
“Due to the magnitude of the crime and the technicalities of the crime scene, from the air, as well as moving a plane we had CHP come up and helped with the crime scene reconstruction,” explains Siskiyou Sheriff’s Spokeswoman Allison Giannini. “We had the Department of Justice up here helping with the fingerprints and evidence analysis. A lot of that as well, the FBI came due to the fact that this is also potentially a Federal crime.”
You can see the fingerprint dust on the planes. It appears the right engine on the larger Cessna was the one started, because the left one’s propeller only pierced the wing of the other plane and was not spinning when they collided.