Police credit ‘Turko Files’ and tipsters for finding stolen memorial benches and the people who took them.

by on July 20, 2011 · 26 comments

in Media, Ocean Beach, Popular

On the 6 pm KUSI news this evening, Michael Turko – the channel’s flamboyant consumer crusader of “Turko Files” – was credited by police for finding the missing and presumed stolen memorial benches taken from the Ocean Beach bluff.

It was the very top story at the news channel, and Michael Turko took center stage as he explained how he tracked down the benches for the Story and Cappelluchi families.  A police lieutenant credited Turko for helping them with the crucial leads in the case. Turko in turn credited his viewers and fans and said they’ve “done it again” in calling him and helping him break the case.  Turko said that after his show on Monday, (July 18)  “tips flooded in”.

With the tips, with the photo taken of one of the benches on a flatbed truck by neighbor Mike Diamond, with some internet research by a local couple, and with a little detective work himself, Turko tracked the benches to a South Bay construction and junk yard close to Chollas Creek. The yard is owned and operated by George Gonzales of the Gonzalez Crane Service.

With the camera rolling, Turko confronted Gonzales about taking the benches.  Gonzalez, in fact, stated that he was about to mail a letter to Turko Files claiming that he had been hired to take them. Under Turko’s questioning, he confirmed that his crane was used to remove them. However, Gonzalez would not give up the name of the person who hired him.  Gonzalez claimed that he “had no idea that they were memorial benches,” until the truck brought them to the yard.  Presumably there was a driver/ operator involved.  Both benches have memorial statements on the front sides, impossible not to see.

The benches, clearly in view during in the KUSI news video, appeared to be without damage.

While waiting for the yard to open, Turko had called the police.  Removing the benches is grand theft.  When police arrived, they took Gonzalez in for questioning, but as of now he has not been charged with any crime.

The other hot news about the benches from the Turko Files this evening was the claim by Turko himself that the police know who took them, and that he knows who took it. “We have a real good idea who hired the crane operator,” he said. And then Turko stated that police  have been in touch with that person, and that he would report any further developments.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Goatskull July 20, 2011 at 6:49 pm



avatar Frank Gormlie July 20, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Congrats Michael! Good job all around. OB is very grateful to you and to the folks that helped you break this case. Just a little nitpick: tonight you claimed that you had broken the story of the missing benches. Sorry not true, a competitor news station, the San Diego U-T, and the OB Rag had all run stories about the stolen benches. It is true that not until your story came out on Monday did the case get rolling.


avatar OB Jefe July 20, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Nitpicky, indeed! Which of the other stations/ local “rags” followed up and actually FOUND the stolen benches?


avatar Patty Jones July 20, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Oh, that we had Turko’s resources!


avatar Citizen Cane July 20, 2011 at 9:04 pm

http://www.gonzalezcrane.com/ is No. 2 on the Google list if you search for crane services San Diego. Well at least it’s No. 2 at the moment. Seems to me like the police should have been able to work that short list.

Gonzalez has a web site and email address, but he wants to hand deliver a letter to Turko??? Maybe the letter was a trump card to be played only if needed.

Gonzalez: “The guy told me they were like…bus benches…you know.”

Ya, right. It’s normal to put bus stops on narrow dead end streets.

Will the police search his storage yard for other stolen merchandise? Inquiring minds want to know.


avatar Andy Cohen July 20, 2011 at 9:23 pm

The story clearly stated that Gonzalez himself did not perform the pick up, but rather an employee did. Thus he was not present to “use his own best judgment.” The employee simply did the job he was sent out to do.

I wouldn’t expect Gonzalez to have any major problems because of this. It’s the person (or persons) that hired him that will be hit with some serious legal issues.


avatar thinking out loud July 21, 2011 at 8:10 am

At the end of the day the owner of the crane company is responsible no doubt.
Being a Contractor who has dealt with many many public agency’s over the past 25 years I can tell you this: If I had “some guy” call me and ask for 2 benches to be removed and ” I have City permission” as the guy says ….THE FIRST THING I ASK IS ….”Can you give me a P.O. work order # and contact phone number for the person at the City you have been dealing with” Mr. Crane operator guy is on CYA right now…
I say the City go pick up the benches and reinstall them…and charge mr crane operator guy…


avatar Citizen Cane July 22, 2011 at 11:10 am

In Frank’s article he reports:

Gonzalez claimed that he “had no idea that they were memorial benches,” until the truck brought them to the yard. Presumably there was a driver/ operator involved.

On the Turko video Gonzalez says:

“I didn’t realize they were memorial benches, until we got ’em here to the yard.”

It’s clear to me that he was there, and received the cash in person.


avatar Sunshine July 20, 2011 at 11:26 pm

right fucking on!!!!!!


avatar Seth July 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm

This made my day.


avatar Bill Ray July 20, 2011 at 11:49 pm

I heard that pitchforks, tar and feathers are going on sale at Home Depot. When the bench thief (and he is a thief, a dirty stealing pig of a lowlife) is outed…maybe a little walk up to his residence would be in order.

I’d gladly smell marijuana smoked by Obecians rather than live in the vicinity of a common thief who quite frankly is living in the wrong neighborhood.


avatar OB Guy July 21, 2011 at 9:46 am

Billy, everyone in the neighborhood knew from the start who did it.


avatar Frank Gormlie July 21, 2011 at 10:07 am

Hey Bill Ray – how war ya? What kind of feathers would be best?


avatar nunya July 21, 2011 at 11:39 am

Turko is one of the few things worth watching on that channel.


avatar Frank Gormlie July 21, 2011 at 11:45 am

True enough. The weather guy is a climate change denier. Plus the channel itself is owned by a right-wing millionaire whose best friend is Duncan Hunter, the senior.


avatar Ken July 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Commodore McKinnon was also in the same unit that Randy “Duke” Cunningham was. He called him a friend up until Cunningham was convicted.


avatar Ken July 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm


How many pick up the phone to talk to Tukro (a psuedonym) instead of, say in this case, reporting stolen property to law enforcement? Do you think that when ever Turko and/or his producers gets a lead, they turn it down and tell them to route it through an agency of the proper jurisdiction? Ever see a Turko segment of someone getting ripped off or jacked up by their cell phone provider or any other advertiser? Ever seen the cheesy ass tail he ties his hair in to when you look at him from the back (OK, that’s a cheap shot).

If you like Turko as entertainment nunya, that’s fine; please don’t think him (or anything that Commodore McKinnon broadcasts the work of) a real public advocate or journalist.


avatar OB Jefe July 21, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Ken, what happened? Turko must have busted YOU for something.


avatar Ken July 22, 2011 at 10:23 am

Call me bitter, but when I tried my hand at a business at a mall in town owned by a corporation that has metastasized all over the English speaking world, it flopped within a month’s time.

To add insult to injury, the mall didn’t issue me the security deposit of $1,000. My bad: I lost the check that I paid it with. No check, no deposit. Mind you, this company advertises on KUSI – so when I thought to call up Turko about this, I decided against it because of that reason.

I suppose that we’ll never know how much integrity Turko has in that regard.


avatar City to blame for bench removal July 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I am sorry the memorial part of the bench issue got sooooo much press.
I’m sure it was not his intention to hurt the families…Maybe the mess at the benches just finally became too much after all this time.
The City does not police that street end area since it is not a CITY PARK… there is no trash service and no maintenance. That is left to this volunteer homeowner.
Those benches were placed illegally to begin with. I think there is a time when it all becomes too much for the average citizen to take.
A better story would be honoring this stakeholder in the community. I have never cleaned up dog and human waste, dirty underwear, removed graffiti from the benches, swept up broken glass, needles, condoms, soiled diapers and truckloads of garbage- on a regular basis, day in and day out, year after year: BUT I understand how one day I might say: Enough is Enough. Maybe we can put the benches in a public park where they can be properly taken care of by the CITY.


avatar not a redneck in east county July 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm

ah, dammit. if it hadn’t been for the memorial plaques the whole thing would have gone down unnoticed…

honestly, do you think that removing the benches is going to solve all those problems? there are many areas of the city that have no maintenance and no trash service. and many of the people that read the OB Rag HAVE been involved in community clean-ups and graffiti removal so you’re not coming across so well here saying you have never done any of those things.

The families of the men memorialized on those benches are stakeholders in the community also. yeah, enough is enough, NIMBY!


avatar obecean July 22, 2011 at 9:52 pm

All this coming from the owner of the biggest eyesore in the area!! This is rich, folks!!

Believe it or not Bob, all residents of OB have to deal with issues you speak of: dog waste, human waste, graffiti, broken glass, homeless etc. So your whines simply fall on deaf ears in this forum after all your anti-social behavior.

Will the illegal removal of the memorial benches do any thing to solve these problems, even in just in your immediate area?

Better think again. At 77 and as a long time “stakeholder”, you sure are a newb when it comes to the community.


avatar Frank Flanagan July 28, 2011 at 5:41 am

Why has the name of the criminal who took the benches never been reported? Who is protecting this Enemy of the Community? The police? The Press? If Turko is any type of worthy journalist, he would publish the name and do a story on the perp. Something really stinks in Denmark, and Ocean Beach. Publish the name! Neighbors have a right to know who is destroying public property in their neighborhood.


avatar Patty Jones July 28, 2011 at 10:21 am

Frank, we reported his name a week ago.


avatar Frank Flanagan July 29, 2011 at 5:35 am

Duh, I can’t read EVERY bit of text, thanks Patty! Frank :)


avatar Patty Jones July 29, 2011 at 8:59 am

No worries! I can hardly keep up myself.


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