Someone trespassed on the property and damaged four helicopters sitting on the apron, Sacramento police said. The person eventually got one chopper started, and it crashed.

By Daniel Macht 


A thief crashed a chopper at Sacramento Executive Airport after breaking into multiple helicopters overnight, police said.

Someone trespassed on the property between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. and tried to start four helicopters sitting on the tarmac, Sacramento police said. The person eventually got one chopper started, and it crashed.

The person then fled the scene, police said. They aren’t aware of any injuries.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now in charge of the incident and said there is a person of interest. Special Agent in Charge Sean Reagan said a combination of evidence collected, witness information and surveillance video lead them to a person of interest.

However, Reagan would not reveal if or how they may be connected to Sacramento Executive Airport or the helicopter, which is owned by Capitol Helicopters.

The FBI is trying to determine why someone would want to steal a chopper and looking into several different motives.

“If someone wanted to take an aircraft for a joyride, someone who wanted to take an aircraft to do some other criminal activity or damage to other property, terrorism would be at the other end of the scope,” Reagan said.

KCRA 3 photographer Mike Domalaog saw the helicopter on its side and said it appeared totaled. The tail boom was cracked and the rotors were smashed. The debris field appeared to span hundreds of yards on the tarmac, he said.

KCRA 3 has learned the chopper is a Bell 429 heavy-lift helicopter that can be employed for multiple uses, including firefighting.

A statement from Capitol Helicopters reads:

“Sometime early this morning several helicopters operated by our company were vandalized by an individual unknown to us, and one aircraft was severely damaged. All our employees are safe, and we do not believe that anyone was injured in today’s events. This incident is currently under investigation by several state and federal authorities. We are hopeful that the people responsible are located quickly. We have no further information to report at this time. We appreciate the support from all the agencies and individuals involved.”

The FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

The FBI said it was alerted by the airport at 7:30 a.m. about the crash.

A pilot at the scene said local pilots at the airport have been asking Sacramento County for beefed-up security measures. He said the fences aren’t high enough and there aren’t surveillance cameras.

A spokesperson for the airport said there was a security guard at the airport but was unaware if the guard saw the incident or tried to intervene. They are waiting to see what the investigation reveals before commenting.