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Police locate suspect in WinCo watermelon thefts

Second man wanted in connection to Cedar Hills and Tigard cases


Beaverton and Tigard police have located one of two men who reportedly stole 17 pallets of watermelons on Friday morning from WinCo Foods stores in Cedar Hills and Tigard.

William “Billy” Traverso, 42, of Canby, was arrested Tuesday by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office at his parents' residence in the 29000 block of Southwest Meedy Road in Clackamas County.

On Friday, Beaverton police responded to a call at the Cedar Hills Crossing WinCo Foods, 3025 S.W. Cedar Hills Blvd.

Upon arrival, a Beaverton officer learned six pallets of watermelons, weighing about 5,784 pounds, were stolen. The theft occurred at around 4 a.m. Traverso

A WinCo employee reportedly confronted two men as they were loading the watermelons from the Cedar Hills WinCo onto a truck, said Officer Mike Rowe, Beaverton police spokesman.

"This employee went into the store to get a supervisor, and when they returned, the truck and suspects along with the watermelons were gone," Rowe said. "This employee was able to provide a good description of the two suspects and the truck that they were using.

"Because of the suspects' description and video obtained from WinCo, we were able to identify the two suspects."Taylor

The Beaverton Police Department asked for the public's assistance in locating Brad A. Taylor, a 40-year-old Molalla resident, and Traverso.

The men are also suspects in a Tigard WinCo theft. on Southwest Durham Road. In that case, Tigard police officers learned 11 pallets of watermelons were stolen from the store at about 1:40 a.m. on Friday.

The two thieves reportedly use a box truck with a hydraulic lift, as well as a hand-held pallet jack, to load the heavy fruit onto the truck.

When they were reportedly confronted during the Cedar Hills theft, the two thieves claimed to be delivery men who were removing the melons because of black spots.

“They said they were taking them and would leave them some good watermelons,” Rowe said.

When the employee went into the store to get a supervisor, the truck drove off.

Beaverton and Tigard police officers are working together on these related theft cases.

Taylor was employed at one time delivering watermelons, Rowe said. Investigators believe he and Traverso stole the melons in the hopes of selling them.

In total, the fruits were worth about $7,000, according to police.

Five of the stolen pallets were found in a storage building at Stoller Farm in Aurora. The farm contacted police after the discovery.

WinCo recovered the pallets and said the fruits would not be sold.

As for the other pallets, Jim Wolf, a spokesman with the Tigard Police Department, said that the other melons were likely sold to independent grocers in the area.

“We aren’t sure, but likely, they had been sold,” he said. “We were only able to recover a portion of the pallets.”

Anyone with information on the location of the second suspect is asked to contact the Beaverton Police Department at 503-629-0111.




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