Bench bandits deserve seat in jail |

Bench bandits deserve seat in jail

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Have you seen this bench or one like it?

If so, the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit would like to hear from you.

Two wooden, specially carved benches were reported stolen April 27 from the Taylor Creek Visitor Center near the Rainbow Trail.

Mike St. Michel, the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center director, noticed their disappearance as he prepared the facility that day for its annual, end-of-May summer opening.

The benches, valued at about $400 each, were last seen April 23.

That now leaves the Forest Service with 10 benches along the popular Rainbow Trail that leads to the creek.

The benches, made by Doug Reed of Tahoe Vista, feature a carving of wildlife at the center of the back rests. They were put into place last summer.

The suspect apparently went to a lot of trouble taking them.

The seasonal barricade appeared to have been broken down by a vehicle, and the benches were dragged to the curb and loaded.

“We don’t know how much they weigh, but I can tell you it took four people to put them in place,” LTBMU spokesman Rex Norman said Thursday.

The theft represents a loss for the community as well as the Forest Service.

The Tahoe unit ordered the benches as a complement to the pathway that allows access to the creek where the kokanee salmon spawn as well as the meadow where bird life thrives.

If caught, the suspect faces a felony charge with up to $10,000 in fines or 10 days in jail.

No reward will be offered, but anyone with information regarding the stolen benches is asked to contact LTBMU Officer Jan Hunt-Baumann at 530-573-2650.

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