Stolen antique machinery back with Fresno owner

An antique sulfur sprayer, used on a Madera County vineyard, was stolen in September.
An antique sulfur sprayer, used on a Madera County vineyard, was stolen in September.

Antique farm equipment from a Madera County farm that was stolen from a Fresno home in 2015 is back with its owner, thanks to a good Samaritan.

The machinery, made of valuable amounts of copper and brass, was used to spray sulfur on a vineyard at the Sherian Ranch along the San Joaquin River near Highway 99. The farm was owned by the family of Gerald Schmavonian.

In September, the equipment was taken from a garage near Prospect and Sierra avenues in northwest Fresno. Schmavonian was preparing to loan the French-made equipment to a museum in France for display when it was stolen. The equipment was made by the French Vermorel factory. Several other items taken in the theft still are missing.

Schmavonian said the farm equipment was spotted by a man who stopped at a recent sale in a vacant lot at Marks and McKinley avenues.

As he was looking at items, the buyer saw the machinery in the back of a small moving truck and asked how much the seller wanted for the items. The seller originally wanted $1,000, but agreed to part with them for $500.

Another person who had seen news articles about the burglary then told the buyer about the theft. The buyer then contacted Schmavonian, who repaid the buyer for the purchase.

Schmavonian said law enforcement was a big help in the recovery, since every scrapyard in the state was put on notice about the theft. That made it difficult to get rid of the machinery.

Still missing from the burglary are family treasures such as old maps, prints and etchings that were being stored in FedEx boxes, as well as a large, old-time penny scale, a new windshield for an early 1960s Chevrolet Corvette and a Japanese clay smoker.

Anyone with information about the stolen items is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 559-498-STOP.