Video: Man arrested on suspicion of looting during Caldor Fire repopulation efforts

Local News

EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Ring surveillance video captured a man on his bike trying to open car doors of peoples’ vehicles left behind during evacuations for the Caldor Fire.

Another video shows him stealing a bike rack from someone’s carport.

El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies arrested the suspect, 37-year-old Joseph Donald Dykes, on a probation violation. 

“Hope they put him away for a long time to mess with people after we’re trying to put our lives back together. I’m glad they caught him though,” Meyers resident David Gerhardt told FOX40.

Dykes is facing additional charges including theft during a state of emergency and possessing stolen property.

After days of following leads and probation searches, deputies recovered thousands of dollars in stolen property including a stolen SUV and motorcycle.

There are no reports the thefts happened during the evacuation period, but investigators believe Dyke’s alleged crime spree occurred once the evacuation zones were repopulated.

Residents say the arrest was a team effort with a combination of law enforcement video and Ring video which captured the suspect in the act.

“Honestly, without all that manpower, the chances of him getting caught might have been a little slimmer,” said Meyer’s resident Bethany Gerhardt.

“He was going into carports, like there’s videos of him going into cars in people’s driveways, trying to open them,” David Gerhardt said.

The Gerhardts say it was tough enough, not knowing whether they’d even have a home to come back to, but the thought of anyone stealing from them during such a traumatic time is unconscionable.

“It definitely crossed our minds when we were getting ready to leave and evacuate. I’m like, should we close the blinds or something? Our TV faces right there, outside the window. What did we leave behind? What can be taken?” Bethany Gerhardt said.

They’re just grateful everything ended the way it did.

“As soon as I walked in my house, I broke down because it was a mixture of frustration, and anger. A little PTSD from having to evacuate. Also, the gratitude was overwhelming,” Bethany Gerhardt explained.

They said, aside from law enforcement protecting their homes, they’re forever grateful to all the firefighters.

“We’re just blessed to be back home. They came by and they watered our plants for us. The firefighters are amazing,” David Gerhardt said.

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