Thieves caught red-handed in Mill Park

Even though this pair ‘peeled out’ from the crime scene, find out why cops didn’t need to go far to find the burglars …

Mill Park neighbors say they feel a little better, knowing the police did capture two men who a resident says he caught inside his house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
At a home in Mill Park, the resident knew there shouldn’t be a vehicle in his driveway – when he arrived home a little after 6:00 p.m. on December 30.

And, when he walked into his house near S.E. 116th Avenue and S.E. Lincoln Street, his fears were confirmed – he startled two men who were busily bagging up his belongings, ready to make off with them.

“I was walking my dog, when I saw a couple of guys run to their car, parked in a neighbors’ driveway,” Frank Butterworth later told East Portland News. He pointed at deep tire marks in the lawn.

The suspected burglars made a quick exit by driving their car through the home’s front yard.

“The neighbor pulled up behind those guys, and had them boxed in pretty good,” Butterworth told us. “But, they pulled forward, and then backed out onto the front yard. They turned around on his lawn, and took off toward SE 122nd Street.”

The suspects fled in a vehicle and the homeowner pursued them, said Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Alternate Public Information Officer Sgt. Greg Stewart. “The suspect vehicle crashed in the area of S.E. 120th Avenue and S.E. Lincoln Street, and the suspects fled on foot.”

Three blocks away, the getaway driver didn’t negotiate the turn at SE 120th Avenue, and popped up over the curb.

When PPB East Precinct District Officers arrived on scene, witnesses told them the suspected burglars – who were apparently bad drivers – seemed uninjured and ran away. They pointed out which way the pair ran.

After taking a couple of sniffs, police dogs were on their trail, their scents leading them to a house just around the corner.

This old tree stopped the car, from which the suspected thieves ran.

Witnesses said officers found the duo inside, hiding in a closet. Police won’t confirm if the burglary suspects live in that outer East Portland house – but they did say the pair of fellows were known to the residents.

“I understand the cops found some of the stolen stuff in the car – and in that house as well,” Butterfield said. “That explains some of the problems we’ve been having in the neighborhood.”

These two men, 30-year-old Mark Ian Keith and 33-year-old Benjamin Thomas Hicks, were found hiding in a closet – but couldn’t escape the K-9 Units’ sensitive noses. MCDC booking photos

Not long thereafter, 30-year-old Mark Ian Keith and 33-year-old Benjamin Thomas Hicks were escorted to a waiting patrol car, and eventually, to jail.

Keith was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 11:10 p.m. on charge of Burglary in the 1st Degree, a Class A Felony.

Two minutes later, Hicks was also booked on the charge of Burglary in the 1st Degree at MCDC.

Both burglary suspects remain in custody, held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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