A recent crime wave around the California Route 66 Museum in Victorville has prompted it to auction a 1947 Studebaker truck that has been parked for years in front of the facility.
Transients and homeless people have caused problems for years around the museum, but the newspaper’s report indicates the woes have escalated.
“We’re selling the truck because it’s becoming a liability,” said Museum Business Manager Sue Bridges on Thursday as she reviewed recorded surveillance footage of a man setting a small fire outside the museum’s front door. “Over the last six years, we’ve had transients sleeping in the truck and setting fires inside the cab. We’ve even had the doors of the truck screwed shut so they couldn’t get in, but they broke the windows and got in any way.” […]
“Our visitors love that truck and they’re always taking pictures of themselves in front of it,” Bridges said. “But the truck has become a magnet for the homeless, who have literally destroyed it.”
Over the last few years, the museum has experienced numerous individuals setting multiple fires, breaking windows, tagging murals, vandalizing cars, sleeping and defecating on the property. […]
During a visit to the museum on Thursday, a Daily Press reporter observed three males who seemed to be intoxicated when confronted by staff. Two of them were sleeping and the third was stumbling across the parking lot before they were asked to leave.
“It’s been a never-ending cycle of transients, crime, fire, trespassing and drunks,” Bridges said. “Two of our male docents were attacked a while back — that’s when we started arming our lady docents with mace.”
It appears the city needs to get a better handle on the situation in the Old Town area where the museum sits, or else attendance there will inevitably crater.
The museum also suffered two break-ins this winter, including one that caused $30,000 in damage to display cases and memorabilia.
The museum launched a GoFundMe.com campaign to help cover the some of the costs of the burglary. It has raised more than $4,500 toward a $5,000 goal.
The California Route 66 Museum opened in 1995 in what was the Red Rooster Cafe, a site for the 1980 Neil Diamond movie “The Jazz Singer.” It’s one of the oldest Route 66 museums.
UPDATE: According to the auction house, the truck sold for $3,000.
(Image of the 1947 Studebaker truck in front of the California Route 66 Museum in Victorville by leiris202 via Flickr)