Stolen van hits coffee house

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After the driver of a stolen van backed through windows at Friends Coffee House in Tuolumne early this morning, business was a little slow and the coffee house was a little chilly.

Owner Gina Wertz received a wakeup call from a Tuolumne County Sheriff's dispatcher about 4:30 this morning, telling her a green Ford Aerostar van was parked 2 feet into her store.

Tuolumne County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Wertz, who is also Gina's husband, said he is not sure if the accident was deliberate or if the icy roads contributed to the wreck. Sheriff's deputies and Highway Patrol officers were still investigating this morning.

All three windows on the Pine Street side of the coffee house were destroyed, Tim Wertz said. Each window is valued at $1,000, so the damage could be "up there" he said while standing in piles of glass, bricks, wood window frames and tables.

The coffee shop re-opened six months ago under Gina Wertz's ownership. She was joined two weeks ago by Tuolumne ceramic artist Marshia Hall, who sells artwork there.

The Wertzes said they hoped to have everything back to normal for Saturday business.

11703059
The Union Democrat
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