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"It was very dramatic": FBI investigates attempted helicopter theft at Sacramento Executive Airport

FBI investigates attempted helicopter theft at Sacramento Executive Airport
FBI investigates attempted helicopter theft at Sacramento Executive Airport 02:55

SACRAMENTO — The FBI is leading an investigation into a brazen attempted theft of a helicopter at the Sacramento Executive Airport. 

That heist went horribly wrong when the helicopter crashed at the airport. The suspect remains on the run.

CBS13 was there for the shocking sight. The 7,500-pound machine ended up on its side with its blades sheared off. The thief who tried to fly away in it ran away from the crash-turned-crime scene. 

FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan is leading the investigation into the attempted theft of the aircraft.

"We don't know what the motive is," Ragan said. 

Federal investigators were able to turn the helicopter upright as they scoured the tarmac and surrounding airport for clues into who did this. 

"So that will be one of the things we'll be looking at, what is the motive?" Ragan said. "But the scope would be almost anything you can think of. It could be somebody wanting to take an aircraft for a joyride. It could be someone wanting to take an aircraft to do some sort of other criminal activity with it."

Kevin Eakle works in the hangar next to the crash site and found other aircraft damaged by the helicopter crash. Airplanes had gaping holes from helicopter debris that went flying through the air. 

"It was very dramatic," Eakle said. "They're lucky they walked away and didn't kill anybody."

The crashed helicopter is owned by Capitol Helicopters. Records show it had been used in the past week for flights to other municipal airports in the Bay Area, Auburn, and Paso Robles.

In 2021, an airport break-in and police pursuit on the Sacramento Executive Airport tarmac led to increased security, including 24-hour patrols. General aviation airports do not have the same security measures as commercial airports.

"The person that attempted to steal the aircraft helicopter did actually get it going," Ragan said.

The FBI has found no evidence anyone was injured in this crash. They say whoever tried stealing this helicopter had tried unsuccessfully to get into several others first. 

It happened sometime between 2 and 3 o'clock Wednesday morning. 

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