Stansbury Home burglarized, historic items stolen

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

CHICO — The once pristine and well-kept visitor’s center behind Chico’s Stansbury Home, the house of Dr. Oscar Stansbury built in 1883, was cluttered Wednesday morning with previously locked cabinets hanging open after a burglar ransacked the building before fleeing with various items from inside.
Roaming the property was Stansbury Home Preservation Association President Dino Corbin, taking stock of the damage and loss left in the wake of the burglary.
“All of this is irreplaceable,” Corbin said. “I mean there are certain things you can buy, but it’s irreplaceable in that it was Dr. Stansbury’s.”
Some items, seen Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 were abandoned by a burglar during a recent break-in at the Stansbury Home’s carriage house in Chico, California. (Jake Hutchison/Enterprise-Record)
Corbin said the thief made their way to different parts of the carriage house, which doubles as the home’s visitor center and began collecting belongings from nooks and crannies from old medical supplies to household kitchen items and even a commemorative plate that was still in its box. One particular display that was broken into had two combination locks, the codes of which were known by few people. Corbin said it was discovered that the burglar had used tools to pop a pin out of the door’s hinge to get enough leverage to open the door.
“We figured he had some knowledge of what was going on here because certain items were taken,” Corbin said, alluding to one box that the thief seemed to have abandoned in a hurry that had a sign for the house. “Why would you take Dr. Stansbury’s signage? Other items we know were targeted because in another world, they would have some application for drug use. Glass tubes, medical equipment, things of that nature.”
Dino Corbin speaks on items that were stolen from the visitor center at the Stansbury Home in Chico, California on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. (Jake Hutchison/Enterprise-Record)
Chico Police Department Public Information Officer Kelly DeLeon said the burglary occurred sometime between 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Tuesday.
“We do not have a suspect currently, but officers are still investigating and gathering information,” DeLeon said.
The thief seemed to have only targeted the visitor center as the house itself did not have signs of a break-in.
After doing a walkthrough Wednesday morning, the next step for Corbin was to take stock of the items still at the center and do a deeper dive to figure out what items were missing.
The ransacked kitchen of the Stansbury Home’s carriage house and visitor center on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 in Chico, California. (Jake Hutchison/Enterprise-Record)
“I’m going through my inventory this afternoon to literally identify what is still here so I can determine what is missing,” Corbin said.
While it’s still unclear what the motive was for stealing items with historic value, it’s possible that the thief had the intention of selling some off.
“(The suspect) could sell it to a collector or sell it to a pawn shop,” Corbin speculated.
Corbin said he would need to talk to the board to dial it in, but it’s possible the association could issue a reward for information leading to an arrest.
“As long as we allow this kind of nonsense to continue in Chico, this is just going to continue to get worse,” Corbin said. “We as Chicoans need to say enough is enough.”
The carriage house and visitor center on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 in Chico, California. The center was broken into some time after Saturday and multiple historic items were stolen. (Jake Hutchison/Enterprise-Record)
Pawn shop ins and outs
When property is stolen, whether it be from the Stansbury Home or off of someone’s front porch, one of the go-to assumptions is that the thief is looking to sell it, potentially at a pawn shop.
Often this assumption is warranted. When stolen property is reported to law enforcement, information about the item, such as descriptions and serial numbers, are put into a database and sent to pawn shops throughout the state.
On Park Avenue, southeast of the Stansbury Home is Chico Cash Exchange, a local pawnshop whose owner and employees have a good working relationship with the home’s association. Corbin said the crew at the shop have been supporters of the Stansbury Home in the past.
Cody Lovin, who has worked for the company for seven years, said pawn shops are heavily regulated by the state, though it can be more complicated when it comes to people selling goods.
“There are laws against us assuming things are stolen,” Lovin said. “There are discrimination laws. If somebody comes in and signs our contract and says it’s theirs under penalty of fraud, I have to believe it’s theirs.”
Despite these laws, Lovin said there are other systems in place to determine if items are stolen.
“Everything we take in, everything any secondhand shop in California takes in, has to be uploaded every single day to a system called CAPS,” Lovin said. “It all goes through the Department of Justice and they cross reference any police reports with any pawn shop in California, Gamestop and really any shop that takes in goods.”
CAPS in this case means the California Pawn and Secondhand Dealer System. Lovin said stolen items identified within the system are taken by law enforcement and given back to the owner.
“It’s mostly just trying to keep watch out here in the community,” Lovin said. “There are laws saying we can’t discriminate, but if I have a police report and then somebody comes in with that item, I can still call the cops and say to the person who brought it in, ‘You’re not getting this back.’”
The Stansbury Home on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 in Chico, California. The home itself was not broken into. (Jake Hutchison/Enterprise-Record)

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.