A Merced man who was building a unique-looking shelter in the side of a Bear Creek embankment was arrested this week, after police say his excavation activities may cost the city thousands of dollars.
Merced Police Lt. Emily Foster said 39-year-old Hector Segura, was arrested by officers Friday afternoon. Police said they had been trying to arrest him for more than 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 Path.
Police believe Segura was digging out dirt from along the creek embankment and building a shelter. Photos from the scene show Segura’s work looked quite extensive — with doorways and ground that looked like it had been leveled.
Police said is appears Segura was taking that dirt and throwing it into the creek itself, in an attempt to build a bridge from one side to the other.
Merced Public Works employees 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 is homeless and appeared to be living in the area of the damage along the creek. It is unknown how long he had allegedly been digging out the dirt from the embankment.
While Segura’s creation may look interesting, it can cause expensive problems for the city — and pose a public safety hazard.
Foster said damaging the embankment in such a manner can lead to a sidewalk collapse, which can be dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists along the creek. Police said similar events have occurred in other areas along the creek.
According to Foster, Segura is the second person since the beginning of the year to be arrested for digging shelter into the side of Bear Creek.
She said it could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 to repair the damage caused to the embankment. “For those that are thinking about doing it, it’s going to cost you a trip to jail,” said Foster
Segura was arrested on suspicion of two counts of felony vandalism, according to police. “With water levels coming up, we’re hoping that we’ll see it less,” said Foster.
According to police, those who wish to report damage such as this can do so through the Merced Connect app or by calling the Merced Police Department non-emergency number at 209-385-6905.