Reposted from VV Daily Press
Caretakers of the California Route 66 Museum spent most of the morning wiping away tears and cleaning up broken glass after the popular tourist attraction was broken into.
Museum President Susan Bridges and her staff watched in disbelief as a security monitor recording showed a man smashing glass cabinets, overturning displays and stealing vintage artifacts and clothing inside the museum located on D Street in Victorville.
Bridges said the camera also caught the suspect breaking into the museum, stealing a “vintage and empty” cash register; leaving the building and returning later to “damage and steal” property.
“He was inside for about 10 minutes and did about $30,000 in damage,” Bridges told the Daily Press Monday. “It’s going to cost about $5,000 just to replace the glass. We’re going to be closed for at least a week so we can get everything back in order.”
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrested Roy Fonder after he was found with stolen items and a crowbar near the museum in Victorville. The 25-year-old Fonder, who matched the description of the suspect on the surveillance video, was later booked at High Desert Detention Center on suspicion of burglary and vandalism, Sheriff’s spokeswoman Mara Rodriguez reported.
Most of the stolen property has been recovered and the majority of the 4,500-square-foot museum was left untouched during the break in. But the scale model of Hulaville, six glass cabinets, the front door and numerous antique cars, trains and figurines were damaged in the break-in, Bridges said.
“He really did a number on Hulaville, but I saved the bottles,” said museum docent Bill Lamb, as he worked to restore the model and find missing pieces that had been scattered throughout the building. “You can replace glass, but you can’t replace history.”
Bridges, who said she was alerted to the break-in by Hi Desert Alarm just before 2 a.m. Monday, remarked that deputies “seemed to be heartbroken” by what they found when they arrived at the museum.
“This museum is part of who we all are,” Bridges said. “It holds so many memories and artifacts of Route 66 and the High Desert. I can see how anyone who lives here would be affected.”
Bridges said she is pleading with the public to “stop calling the museum” to inquire about the damage and stolen property.
“We’ve been getting calls from the High Desert and all over the country,” Bridges said. “We appreciate the love and support from all of our friends around the world, but we’re swamped trying to put everything back together. We’ll keep everyone updated on Facebook, Instagram and our website.”
The museum team is working hard to reopen the museum so they can serve “the army of Brazilian and Polish tourists” who are currently on vacation. Every year, the museum welcomes thousands of guests from Europe, Asia, South America and other places around the world, Bridges said.
Air Force veteran and museum docent Lou Tyson, 70, told the Daily Press his “childhood” hit him “square in the face” when he first walked through the doors of the museum.
“I was infuriated when I found out what happened here,” said Tyson, as the original “Hula Girl” cutout looked down on him. “The museum is my home-away-from-home, so this break-in makes me feel violated.”
For donation and general information, visit www.califrt66museum.org or www.facebook.com/Rte66Museum. The museum is located at 16825 D St. in Victorville.
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