East Portland thief’s wild drive to escape cops ends in foot chase

But, the suspected crook ends up collared by a dog!

Not often do you see an East Precinct patrol car ripped up like this one was, as an officer was pursuing a crook on February 13.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Westbound NE Glisan St. is shut down for hours on February 13. A police patrol car tangles with civilian cars, in the midst nabbing an individual suspected of being a prolific thief.

The commotion has eastbound early-evening traffic backed up to nearly NE 102nd Avenue, while cops investigate the incident, and search for the alleged perpetrator.

“They [police] were chasing a Range Rover or Bronco,” Melinda Jacobs tells us. She says she was coming out McDonald’s [on the NW corner of NE 122nd and Glisan St.]. “It was like he was trying to get away; this guy was driving crazy, going down Glisan really fast.”

While police and rescue units investigate, and secure the scene of the crash, other officers are chasing down a suspected thief.

Witness recounts the accident
Tim Lawrence, an off-duty TriMet driver, tells us what he saw.

“I just pulled into McDonald’s. I saw something out of the corner of my eye that was unusual. It was a cop car going sideways on Glisan,heading west. The cop car hit a minivan, but not very hard.”

Lawrence says the cops were chasing a vehicle going south on SE 122nd Ave. and turned west, around the clipped civilian car. “The cop car got clipped by a coupe, looked like it went out of control, and into the van.”

Police say this car “zigged when it should have zagged”; after the first patrol car passed, it clipped the second police car as it rounded the corner from NE 122nd Ave. on to Glisan St.

The official word
We get in touch with Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Sgt. Brian Schmautz. He fills us in on the details.

“Officers were chasing an individual wanted in connection with a series of property crimes.

“The suspect made it through the intersection; as did the first patrol car. The second patrol car was hit by a citizen who was trying to get out of the way, but turned into the second police car.”

Police allege that this man, 35-year-old Tom Lepesh, is suspected of numerous property crimes – in addition to leading cops on the Tuesday evening pursuit.

Collared by a canine
The suspect, identified by police as 35-year-old Tom Lepesh, speeds west on NE Glisan Street. He bails out of his vehicle just east of SE 102nd Avenue, and heads east into the apartment complex near NE Marx Street. He’s then seen walking south on NE 102nd Avenue. Police fear he’ll hop on MAX and be gone.

But, a Portland Police K-9 officer arrives on scene and gets the scent. It doesn’t take long for the four-legged officer to sniff out Lepesh; he’s then taken into custody.

Back at the accident site, two ambulances are called to the scene. “The officer and one citizen received some medical attention, but there were no serious injuries,” reports Schmautz.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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