Thieves managed to break into the city corporation yard on Harold Street early Saturday and hot-wired a work van by crashing through an automatic gate.
An alarm at 2:45 a.m. alerted police to the crime. Police found evidence that thieves tried to break into several vehicles as door handles were broken and ignitions were hit with a screw driver.
"They pretty much destroyed the gate," said Ceres Police Department spokesman Lt. Chris Perry.
The California Highway Patrol found the van abandoned on Golf Links Road near Turlock later Saturday evening. Tools may have been stolen from the van, said Lt. Perry.
Police say they don't have any information on the suspects.