Thanks to footprints in the snow – before they could be erased by unaware residents with shovels and snow blowers -- police tracked down and arrested two Bend teen boys Sunday, accused of entering at least two dozen unlocked cars overnight and stealing items from several, across a wide swath of northeast Bend.
Officers turned to the public to see if there were any more victims of the pair.
Police were dispatched early Sunday to the area of Justice Lane and Majestic Loop on a report of suspicious activity, said Sgt. Todd Fletcher. The caller reported finding numerous shoe prints around their vehicle, indicating someone had attempted to enter, Fletcher said.
Officers responding to the area began following the shoe prints and found the same ones leading up to numerous vehicles parking on the street and in driveways on Snow Peaks Drive, Wandalea Drive, Stacy Lane, Russell Drive, Nicolette Drive, Boyd Acres Road, Sierra Court, Ranch Village Drive, Crestview and many other streets, sidewalks and driveways in the area, Fletcher said.
Officers also were able to track the shoe prints to a residence in the area, where they located two boys, 16 and 15. Fletcher said further investigation and evidence led to their arrest without incident.
Fletcher said the investigation showed the two boys specifically targeted unlocked cars, as no broken windows or other property damage was found at any of the locations.
“This serves as a reminder to lock all vehicles and secure all valuables,” Fletcher said.
The teens were lodged at the Deschutes County Juvenile Detention Center on initial charges of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, second-degree criminal trespass and marijuana possession (less than an ounce), the sergeant said.
Once the investigation is complete, to determine the total number of victims and amount of stolen property, reports will be submitted to the district attorney’s office for consideration of more charges, Fletcher said.
As of Sunday evening, police said they expected to recommend 24 counts each of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle and conspiracy, along with two counts of second-degree theft and five counts of third-degree theft.
Fletcher said more victims are likely to be found as the investigation continues. Anyone with information about the incidents, or who believe they also could be victims, are asked to contact Bend police at (541) 693-6911.
While the pair got into at least two-dozen cars, "they attempted to enter many more than that," Fletcher said. "They really didn't take much stuff of value -- gum, owner's manuals, Justin Bieber CDs, that kind of stuff."
Fletcher said police hadn't been able to contact all of the victims, and "were more concerned about tracking the shoe prints, once we figured out how large an area we were dealing with."
"Once 9 a.m. rolled around, we really had to get on the shoe prints, because residents were coming outside to remove the newly fallen snow," Fletcher told KTVZ.COM. "Snow blowers and shovels destroying the shoe prints were starting to be a hindrance.”
"So once we found the suspects, we charged them with the crimes we'd investigated," the sergeant explained. "We had to go back and try to relocate all the other victims, do the investigations, and get together to figure out what we had and where. Once all six officers got back together, it was 3 p.m. and they (the teens) had been released."
"But we have them identified, and all the cases will be sent over to the DA's office in one big case file rather than a whole bunch of separate reports," Fletcher said.