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Prolific thief drives up property crime rates

Apr 14, 2013


By The Associated Press

PORTLAND — A prolific thief motived by a drug problem helped boost property crime rates in multiple Oregon counties but now faces a 14-year prison sentence.

Randy Steven Coenen Jr. was convicted of theft, identity theft, burglary and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charges as part of a plea deal and was sentenced in January.

The Oregonian reports Coenen, 38, stole from businesses, and after arrests, was often quickly discharged.

Happy Valley Detective Gil Millett of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said thieves often specialize.

“But Randy just did everything,” Millett said. “He was stealing trucks. He was stealing cargo. He was passing bad checks and breaking into businesses. He was just a multitasking bad guy.”

Oregon's largest cities saw larger increases in property crime during the first six months of 2012 than many other large cities. The crime often takes a back seat to violent crimes for police departments.

Coenen after his arrest acknowledged stealing to buy methamphetamine.

By 2012, he had nine felony convictions as an adult.

He was arrested April 10, 2012, as a suspect in burglaries at three businesses. A day later, he was released.

On Sept. 4, he was pulled over driving a stolen truck, charged with aggravated theft and other charges, and released the next morning.

“He got kicked right back out. They wouldn't hold him for us,” Millett said. “Randy got out and would continue his criminal activity until we picked him up again.”

Coenen was one of the 908 inmates released when Multnomah County jails reached 95 percent capacity. Suspects facing charges of nonviolent crimes were released to make room for suspects of violent crimes.

Chuck French, a former Multnomah County deputy district attorney, said jail releases likely add a “substantial part” to a rise in property crimes.

Investigators eventually tied Coenen to thefts of cargo delivered to a warehouse in Clackamas. Sheriff's deputies investigated the warehouse Sept. 7.

“Lo and behold, I see 32 pallets of still-in-the-wrapper Diet Pepsi cans,” said Bill O'Connell, PepsiCo's California-based regional security manager. “We got our tractor-trailer back, but we also had to take the total loss. With food and beverage companies, once you lose control of the product you kind of have to write it off. You can't take it back and resell it.”

A search with a warrant found racks of stolen Nabisco products.

“I knew this was much bigger,” Millett said. “It was just an enormous amount of stolen property.”

Millett linked Coenen and an accomplice to 25 to 30 thefts of commercial trucks between Portland and Keizer from May through September 2012.

Coenen also was recorded Sept. 19 taking luggage from Portland International Airport.

“It's not rocket science,” Coenen told Millett in jail. “I am not the smartest criminal in the world. I just have a drug problem.”

___

Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com

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