A Merced man who was building a unique-looking shelter on the side of a Bear Creek embankment was arrested this week, after police said his excavation activities could cost the city thousands of dollars.
Merced Police Lt. Emily Foster said Hector Segura, 39, was arrested by officers on Friday afternoon. Police said they had been trying to arrest him for over a week.
Foster said the damage is located on the south side of Bear Creek between R Street and Pira Drive near the Michael O Sullivan Bike Trail.
Police believe Segura was digging dirt along the creek embankment and building a shelter. Photos from the scene show that Segura’s work looked quite extensive – with doors and a floor that looked like it had been leveled.
Police said it appeared Segura was taking this land and dumping it into the creek itself, with the intent of building a bridge from one side to the other.
Employees of Merced Public Works were in the area more than a week ago when they alerted authorities to the damage. “Where the damage is is actually MID property,” Foster said.
Police said Segura was homeless and appeared to be living in the area of the damage along the creek. It is not known how long ago he would have been digging the earth from the embankment.
Although Segura’s creation may seem interesting, it can cause costly problems for the city and pose a danger to public safety.
Foster said damaging the embankment in this way can cause the sidewalk to collapse, which can be dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists traveling along the creek. Police said similar events occurred in other areas along the creek.
According to Foster, Segura is the second person this year to be arrested for digging a shelter on the side of Bear Creek.
She said it could cost between $10,000 and $50,000 to repair the damage to the embankment. “For anyone thinking of doing it, it’s going to cost you a trip to jail,” Foster said.
Segura was arrested on suspicion of two counts of criminal vandalism, according to police. “With the water levels going up, hopefully we’ll see less of it,” Foster said.
Police say those wishing to report such damage can do so through the Merced Connect app or by calling the Merced Police Department’s non-emergency number at 209-385-6905.
This story was originally published May 3, 2022 6:42 p.m.