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Bend police seek 2nd suspect in Sonic safe theft

By John Hendricks
Published On: Jan 31 2014 03:12:42 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 02 2014 03:21:56 PM CST
Sonic safe found near Madras; James Clay

Bend Police Dept., Deschutes County Jail

A safe stolen from the Bend Sonic Drive-In early Friday was found later in the day, emptied and dumped down an embankment off a road north of Madras; police later confirmed arrest of James Forrester Clay in the case

BEND, Ore. -

Bend police said Friday night they had made an arrest in connection with the theft of a safe at Sonic Drive-In in northeast Bend early Friday morning -- a safe that was found opened, emptied and abandoned north of Madras later in the day.

Police confirmed to NewsChannel 21 that 38-year-old James Forrester Clay Jr. had been taken into custody on charges of second-degree burglary, first-degree theft, methamphetamine possession, possession of burglars' tools and unlawful entry into a motor vehicle.

Clay had been held on $40,000 bail at the Deschutes County Jail pending an initial court appearance next Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., jail records showed. But a jail officer later confirmed he was conditionally released Friday night.

Sgt. Todd Fletcher said more arrests are possible.

And asked for an update Saturday, Sgt. Brian Beekman told NewsChannel 21, "We have not recovered any more evidence and have not arrested a second suspect. We are actively pursuing leads as to who that second suspect is."

Police said two people entered the Sonic Drive-In early Friday morning and wheeled the restaurant's safe out to a waiting vehicle. Officers have sought information from the public about any suspicious activity in the area at the time.

Officers responded around 5:40 a.m. Friday to the reported burglary at the Sonic at 63076 N. Highway 97, said police Sgt. Brian Beekman. A worker opening the business for the day said he'd discovered the burglary.

Beekman said the business's surveillance video showed that around 1 a.m., two suspects entered through an exterior door and removed the safe using a dolly. They wheeled the safe, which held an undisclosed amount of cash, to a nearby vehicle and fled, the sergeant said.

On Friday afternoon, someone spotted the safe north of Madras and called police. Bend police said it took several people to lift the safe up the embankment.

Photos of the recovered safe showed the front door had been taken off and the contents were gone.

Clay made the news nearly a decade ago, when he was arrested in November 2004, two weeks after a daylight robbery of a home in Deschutes River Woods.

The search for the "armed and dangerous suspect" came to a dramatic conclusion when an anonymous tip sparked a 10-mile high-speed police chase from Madras to a cliff high above Pelton Dam. Jefferson County sheriff's deputies said. Clay tried to run away, but hurt his ankle when he apparently fell off a rocky, 20-foot cliff.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (541) 693-6911.

You can also call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-877-876-TIPS, or use the form on KTVZ.COM’s Crime Stoppers page. You can remain anonymous, and you could be eligible for a cash reward.

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