On October 27, 2021, a 2017 Front Loader Tractor was stolen from a location in Stanislaus County.
Detectives with both the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office and the Merced County Sheriff’s Office coordinated their resources to search for the stolen tractor after learning it may have been taken to Merced County.
Merced County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Sziraki was able to locate the tractor in the Delhi area of Merced County on December 26, 2021, being operated by Matthew Thomas Bollinger, 33, from Merced.
When attempting to stop Bollinger and the stolen tractor, Mr. Bollinger lead officers on a pursuit that involved the tractor driving through barrier fencing along Highway 99 and driving across both the northbound and southbound lanes.
Bollinger was apprehended when the tractor became stuck and he attempted to flee on foot. Bollinger was on felony probation for Grand Theft involving a tractor and Attempted Grand Theft in two separate cases at the time of this apprehension.
Mr. Bollinger was formally charged by the Merced County District Attorney’s Office with Felony Evasion, Felony Possession of Stolen Property, and Felony Vandalism for this incident, and is currently in the custody of the Merced County Jail.
This case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby. If anyone has any information as to criminal activity involving Mr. Bollinger or any other crime involving the agriculture community, please contact District Attorney Investigator Ryan Rasmussen at 209-385-7381.
The investigation, arrest, and prosecution of Mr. Bollinger is part of the Rural Crime Prevention Program in Merced County, a multi-agency cooperation involving a state grant funded program dedicated to fighting the rampant crime which plagues Merced County’s farmers and ranchers.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office have committed to combating these thefts, and will work in partnership with farmers, ranchers and agriculture-related businesses to combat rising crime rates in rural areas.
The program’s main goal is to provide protection for farm and ranch property by aggressively prosecuting suspects involved in rural crime. This unit seeks to build stronger alliances within rural communities to educate the public concerning the extent and seriousness of rural crime.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of a rural crime, please take the time to fill out a complaint form that can be found at https://www.co.merced.ca.us/3026/Rural-Crime-Prevention-Program, or print out and mail this form to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office so that we can work together to stop these types of crimes.