Stolen truck recovered, occupants walk free

Amazing as it may seem, police say this happens almost every day. While shocking, it’s true …

In front of the Firland Apartments in the Foster-Powell neighborhood, officers investigate a reported stolen truck, parked next to an apartment complex.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Almost every day, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers come upon a stolen car or truck, often being driven by someone other than the owner.

Surprisingly, instead of being arrested for vehicle theft, the suspect often walks away, without even receiving a “Citation to Appear” in court.

Such was the case the afternoon of February 14, when 12:53 p.m., officers were called to SE Raymond Street, just east of SE 80th Avenue.

An officer finds a goodly amount of household-type possessions in the extended cab of this commercial roofing truck.

“Someone reported that a reported-stolen white RAM 2500 Heavy Duty Hemi pickup truck, registered to ABC Roofing Company, was parked in the neighborhood – and a ‘drug-affected-looking’ couple were in and around it,” said an officer at the scene.

The extended cabin pickup truck was filled with personal goods, and a broken-down-looking motor scooter and other items were lying in the truck’s bed.

During the investigation, officers determined that the couple did not own the business truck, and possibly didn’t have permission to use it. Officers watched as the couple removed their belongings from the truck.

Given the opportunity, the truck’s “borrowers” begin removing personal items from the truck.

An officer told East Portland News that, when questioned, the couple claimed they’d “borrowed” the truck from a “friend”, but neither the man nor the woman could agree on the name of the individual who’d loaned it to them.

During their investigation officers were seen removing a large ring of “jiggle keys” from inside the truck – a low-tech way to defeat the ignition system lock and drive the truck.

The male suspect gets ready to take a motor scooter out of the truck’s bed.

“They aren’t being arrested, because the likelihood of them being prosecuted is extremely small,” the officer remarked.

Apparently, this isn’t due to lax prosecution by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office; it was an Oregon Court of Appeals decision that made it almost impossible to prosecute vehicle theft, unless the suspect clearly admits to stealing the vehicle.

In “STATE of Oregon, Plaintiff–Respondent, v. Jerrol Edwin SHIPE”, [C120721CR; A152549] in a case decided on July 23, 2014 – although defendant was convicted for unauthorized use of a vehicle (UUV), and unlawful possession of methamphetamine, after a police officer found him sitting in a stolen truck – his defense lawyer successfully had the UUV conviction overturned.

The legal opinion reads:

On appeal, defendant challenges only the UUV conviction, arguing that the trial court erred when it denied his motion for judgment of acquittal on that charge. According to defendant, the state failed to prove that he “knowingly” used the truck without the owner’s consent, as charged.

Although caught with a stolen vehicle, the subjects sort through their boxes, baskets and bags of personal items removed from the reported stolen truck on the sidewalk – but aren’t arrested or cited.

With little or no prosecution of vehicle thieves being possible, you now know why so many cars and trucks are stolen in our area.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

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