Law enforcement is a tough job. But every now and then, the bad guys make it easy for them.
That’s what happened for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office last month, when deputies arrested a suspect wanted in a string of burglaries and thefts who appeared at the Clackamas County Courthouse — carrying keys to a stolen RV in his pocket.
Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office deputies had been investigating a string of burglary and theft cases — most involving homes and outbuildings — in the Rhododendron area over the past several months.
Multiple vehicles had also been stolen during the spree, among them a 2006 Jayco Seneca motor home.
During the course of these investigations, deputies narrowed down the crime spree to a suspect: Reid Leland Stephens, 38, of Brightwood. Deputies determined they had probable cause to arrest Stephens.
On Thursday, Jan. 9, an alert crime analyst tipped deputies off that Reid Stephens had a scheduled court date at the Clackamas County Courthouse. Stephens was there to face the judge following a Dec. 12 arrest on charges including forgery, possession of a stolen vehicle and first-degree theft.
Deputies contacted Stephens at the courthouse and placed him under arrest. A deputy interviewed him regarding this new string of crimes. They specifically asked about the missing motor home — stolen around the beginning of the new year near Lolo Pass Road in Rhododendron.
During that interview, Stephens denied being involved in any of the crimes, but deputies say he made an interesting offer: Though he claimed to know anything about the stolen motor home, he allegedly said he would be able to find it for them, if he was “given a little time.”
The deputies later discovered Stephens was in possession of vehicle keys similar to those of the stolen motor home, and when the RV itself was found by police during a search of “an area relevant to the Stephens investigation,” near SE 52nd and Woodstock in Portland, the keys were determined to be a match.
Stephens was arrested and booked at the Clackamas County Jail on 11 charges, including first- and second-degree burglary, first- and second-degree theft, and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.
Deputies say Stephens had been spending time in Tualatin, central Oregon, Rhododendron and Portland during his crime spree. He had been known to drive around the Rhododendron area offering to sell firewood.
Some of the stolen property has already been recovered and returned to its owners. If you have any additional information about Reid Stephens and his exploits, contact the CCSO confidential tip line at 503-723-4949 or online at https://www.clackamas.us/sheriff/tip.