Bend PD vows action after recent car thefts shine light on troubling trend

Bend Police say two recent high-profile car thefts in town are just part of a troubling trend it hopes to reverse in the coming months.

The number of reported stolen vehicles in Bend jumped from 124 in 2019 to 195 in 2020 – an increase of 57%.

“In recognizing the impact that this crime has on our community, over the next 3 months the Bend Police Department will be employing a variety of strategies including education, investigation and enforcement, and collaboration to reduce the number of victims of stolen vehicles and reduce the overall crime impact in our community,” according to a statement from the department on Tuesday.

“The Bend Police Department is committed to utilizing a data-driven model in working towards reducing and preventing crime,” the statement said. “We look to address crime prevention and reduction through a problem-solving approach, utilizing a variety of strategies to address the issue.   The utilization of data allows us to focus our limited resources on specific crime problems or trends that are impacting our community.”

A department analysis of the recent crime data shows:

  • In about 25% of the vehicles stolen – the keys had been left inside.
  • Vehicles were left unlocked in about 31.7% of cases and an additional 12.9% of victims were unaware if their car was locked or not.  In 21.8% of the remaining cases, officers could not determine if a vehicle had been unlocked or not.
  • Some of the stolen vehicles had weapons, such as handguns or rifles, left inside the car by the owner.
  • About 35% of the time vehicles were stolen from a street or alleyway and about 20% of the time vehicles were stolen from a parking lot or public driveway.
  • The most common brand of vehicles stolen in Bend is Honda, Subaru, Toyota and Ford.
  • Most vehicles were stolen between the early morning hours between 5 and 6 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • It is believed a high number of vehicles are stolen when people are starting their cars and leave them unattended while the vehicle warms up.

Two recent cases in Bend involving stolen cars highlight the overall impact these crimes can have on our community and detail how one stolen car can have such a negative impact.

In the first, a Bend man was arrested on January 27th after police say he stole a truck, crashed into another vehicle and led authorities on a short chase that ended in Crooked River Ranch.

The incident started around 8:43 a.m. when someone called 911 to report their truck was stolen from 908 NE 4th St. in Bend, said Lt. Juli McConkey.

A few minutes later, officers responded to a reported hit and run at the intersection of NE 5th and Greenwood Ave. where witnesses say the truck, a gray Toyota Tacoma, t-boned another car and took off.

The victim of the hit and run suffered minor injuries.

Because the stolen truck owner’s phone was still in the vehicle, an officer was able to track the truck in real-time and give updates to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and Redmond Police.

Around 9:15, a DCSO deputy in an unmarked vehicle saw the truck heading north on Highway 97 near SW Veterans Way in Redmond.

The deputy followed the truck and provided updated locations for law enforcement officers involved, McConkey said.

A Redmond Police officer tried to stop the truck in the area of SW 5th St. and SW Glacier Ave.

The driver refused to stop and continued driving, leading law enforcement on a short pursuit. The pursuit was quickly discontinued due to concerns for community safety, McConkey said.

Deputies then saw the truck driving north on Highway 97 near NE Oneil Hwy.

They tried to stop the truck, but the driver again refused to stop leading to a second short pursuit. The pursuit was again discontinued.

Bend Police Officers and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Deputies tracked the stolen truck and suspect into Crooked River Ranch.

The suspect, later identified as 24-year-old Dakota Willis, abandoned the truck near the golf course, and he was found a short distance away from the truck.

Willis was taken into custody at 9:46 a.m., without incident.

The truck, with moderate front-end damage, was returned to the victim.

Willis was booked on multiple charges from multiple agencies including first-degree theft, unauthorized use of a vehicle, hit and run, drunk driving, reckless driving and criminal mischief.

The second case happened Saturday when Bend Police officers responded to a report of a stolen truck that happened overnight, where it was parked in front of a residence.

The victim reported that two firearms and ammunition were in the truck.

About three hours later,  the victim called police to report that he found his truck near Clausen Drive, McConkey said.

The victim followed the truck and called law enforcement, saying there were two men inside.

Officers found the truck pulling into a local coffee shop and tried to stop the suspects, but they drove out of the parking lot and got away from officers.

The driver then got out of the truck and ran from the area, he has arrested a short distance away, McConkey said.

The passenger then moved into the driver’s seat and tried to drive away when he collided with another vehicle causing minimal damage to the vehicle he struck. The passenger who got into the driver’s seat was taken into custody as well.

Officers located one of the victim’s firearms in the stolen truck, but another wasn’t recovered.

During the investigation, officers learned that the two men who stole the truck were using methamphetamine and the outstanding firearm had been given to a person with previous felony convictions and was restricted from possessing firearms.

Officers learned the person was staying at a home in southwest Bend.

Officers applied for and were granted a search warrant for the person and the home he was staying at.

The Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT) was called in to assist with the execution of the warrant.

Prior to the warrant being served, the person left the home in a vehicle and was later arrested at the Riverwoods Country Store.

About 10 hours after the vehicle was reported stolen, the CERT team members and Bend Police Officers served the warrant at the home.

During the warrant service, the missing weapon was found.

Bend Police contacted a man at the home who had two outstanding warrants for his arrest and a woman was contacted and issued criminal citations for forgery, criminal possession of forged Instrument, and third-degree attempted theft.

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