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October 20, 2014

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2 arrested in theft of cheese vans in California

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Manteca Police Department

In this undated photo provided by the Manteca Police Department are three Tillamook Cheese vans that were stolen Saturday, July 12, 2014.

MANTECA, Calif. — Two men were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of stealing three Volkswagen minibuses that were customized to look like bright orange Tillamook cheese loafs.

Brian Lancaster, 32, and Ryan Monaco, 38, both of Sacramento, were pulled over in Rocklin, Calif., and they were taken into custody by members of an auto theft task force, Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion said.

The minibuses, worth $100,000 each, were stolen Saturday from a hotel parking lot in Manteca, where they had stopped on a tour promoting the Oregon-based Tillamook County Creamery Association's dairy products.

A tip led investigators to the vehicles Monday in a storage locker about 50 miles away from Manteca. Obligacion said one of the suspects had rented the storage locker.

Lancaster and Monaco were being held for investigation of auto theft, possession of stolen vehicles, conspiracy and arson. It wasn't immediately known whether they have retained attorneys.

A truck and trailer that were part of the entourage were found torched and abandoned on Saturday.

The minibuses were found in their original condition.

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