Worker hoses carwash bandit, foils robbery

You might say this bungling crook got clean away – but didn’t get a single cent for his efforts. The victim’s hands weren’t totally clean, though – find out why he was arrested during the investigation …

This Washman car wash on NE 82nd Avenue of Roses at NE Glisan Street sprays down hundreds of vehicles every day – and power-washed a would-be bandit on December 13.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The crime was simple, although perhaps not well-thought-out: Just rob a Montavilla-area carwash, and scoot with some quick cash.

On Saturday, December 13, at 10:42 a.m., a man wearing a skull-stenciled ski mask tried to rob the Washman Carwash, located at 426 NE 81st Avenue of Roses, The suspect approached an employee on foot, pulled a gun from his sweatshirt, and demanded money.

“The suspect dropped the gun, and it appears the gun fell apart,” reported Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Officer Catherine Kent. “The suspect then waved his fist at the employee and demanded money.

These four photos, taken by the car wash’s security cameras, tell the story.

The employee, Chris Truax, walked the suspect over to a booth and opened up the till, as the suspect demanded.

“I wasn’t trying to be a hero,” Truax said. “It just really upset me that this guy was getting into my personal space, even though I was trying to cooperate.” When the masked bandit reached for the money, Truax said he grabbed the power washer and sprayed the suspect in the face.

Perhaps thinking the “skeleton” ski mask would frighten his victim, the suspect charges Truax.

Truax picks up a gun of his own – a high-pressure washer spray gun – and prepares to blast the suspect in the face.

“The suspect fled on foot westbound on NE Everett Street,” Kent reported. “The suspect is described as a white male in his 20’s, 6 feet tall and 180 pounds. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants, and a white ‘skeleton’ ski mask. The employee described the suspect as having dark eyes and unusually long arms. The suspect should be considered armed and dangerous.”

Becomes a Crime Stoppers case
Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony, and you remain anonymous.  Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (4357) or leave a tip online at

Victim later arrested
We’d heard that Truax, the victim of the robbery attempt, was later arrested on an unrelated charge.

Kent told us, “Yes, that is correct. Officers discovered an unresolved, seven-year-old DUI warrant during the course of their investigation. He was arrested, and later released.”

“I should have taken care of this long ago,” Truax told reporters. “I’m taking care of it now!”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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