Carjacking tavern robbers nabbed in minutes

See how their ‘perfect caper’ near 82nd ended up with one of the crooks on the ground, looking up at a police dog …

It was here, at Essex Park where this short-lived carjacking/robbery crime spree began.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Within minutes of each other, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers were dispatched to two different calls in the Powell-Foster neighborhood on January 14.

At 8:55 p.m., some officers were headed to Essex Park, on SE Center Street near SE 76th Avenue to investigate a carjacking.

“Officers learned that 19-year-old woman was in the park with three friends, when she was approached by two men,” reported PPB Public Information Officer Lt. Robert King. “One of the men pointed a gun at her and demanded her car keys. She complied, and gave the suspects the keys to her 2011 Ford Fusion.”

Police say this establishment was robbed only minutes after the suspects carjacked their getaway car.

Moments later, other officers rolled to Nick’s Double Up Tavern at SE 80th Avenue and SE Powell Boulevard – just blocks away – in response to reports of a robber.

“Officers responding to the area to the carjacking and robbery saw the car that had been just stolen and pursued it,” King continued.

The car sped east on SE Powell Boulevard, under the freeway, and turned south on SE 97th Avenue in the Lents neighborhood. What the getaway driver didn’t know was that streets there dead end into the freeway. At SE 97th and SE Francis, the suspects braked, bailed out of the car, and ran from officers.

“The driver, Thomas Edward Riffenburg, was pursued by officers on foot, caught and arrested,” said King. “Officers set up a perimeter and called for a police canine – after which they soon located and arrested the second suspect, Joe Thomas Krieg.”

Officers recovered a firearm and other evidence at the scene, which were turned over to Portland Police Robbery Detectives and the Forensic Evidence Division crews, added King. “No one was hurt in either crime.”

Officials accuse this man, 31-year-old Joe Thomas Krieg, of participating in the carjacking and robbery.

Ultimately 31-year-old Joe Thomas Krieg was charged with Possession of Heroin, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Attempt to Elude, and four counts of Robbery in the Second Degree.

Krieg was lodged at the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) on $1,070,555 bail – where he remains at this writing.

Krieg’s accused partner-in-crime is this man, 26-year-old Thomas Edward Riffenburg, police say.

26-year-old Thomas Edward Riffenburg was also checked into MCDC, and is charged with four counts of Robbery in the Second Degree, and a Parole Violation.  MCDC records show Riffenburg is currently in custody in lieu of $1,000,000 bail.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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