Sheriff's office says Ty Allen Parks snatched tack, guns and electronics worth thousands from barns across Washington County
Ty Allen Parks was known in Washington County as a skilled horse farrier.
But that reputation took a beating early this month when police found what they said is more than $10,000 worth of stolen guns, electronics and horse equipment on Parks' rural Banks property.
Washington County Sheriff's spokesman Dave Thompson said that Parks has been linked with numerous equestrian-related burglaries, going back at least six years. According to Thompson, Parks would steal items from barns when he was working alone.
Parks is currently lodged in Washington County Jail, facing 16 theft charges, eight burglary charges, seven firearms charges and criminal mischief.
Thompson said that Parks' alleged thefts came to light after Paul Mainzer, 47, noticed a saddle was missing the day after Parks had been working in his barn near North Plains.
Mainzer reported the theft in late December and on Jan. 3, he and a pair of friends went to Parks' house to confront him about the saddle.
Mainzer said he approached Parks, while he was eating lunch and asked him about the missing tack.
'I said, 'I need to get my saddle back,' ' Mainzer recalled
At that point, Mainzer said, Parks dropped his sandwich.
Mainzer tried to talk Parks into cooperating with him, but he refused. Then, according to Manizer, Parks' girlfriend came out of the house and told Mainzer that she didn't know of any stolen property. But, she added, it there was anything like that, it would likely be in a horse trailer hooked up to Parks' truck.
As Mainzer trained his eyes on the rig, Parks took off in the truck, trailer in tow.
Mainzer said he and his buddies followed Parks in his own truck, and eventually made contact with a Washington County Sheriff's deputy.
Mainzer continued to follow Parks, leading deputies to intersection of Northwest Hahn and Davidson Roads, about three miles northeast of Banks.
'We looked to our left and we could see him drive over a bridge and he started throwing out stolen tack,' Mainzer said.
One of Mainzer's friends noticed a pair of his missing chaps among the jettisoned cargo and jumped out to grab them. Parks pulled away, but was soon boxed in by police cars.
'It was just like out of a movie,' Mainzer said. 'Bam, bam, bam, here are the cop cars.
In addition to the saddle Mainzer reported stolen that week, deputies found another that had gone missing in September and a small mountain of other goods.
Trade in stolen tack and other horse accoutrements isn't new. In 1996 Marilyn Brown, owner of Marilyn's Tack Shop in the Scholls area, held a workshop to teach people how to protect their gear from theft.
Ask a lot of questions
Brown says that visibility of tack thieves has dropped since then as fencing of stolen goods seems to have migrated to the Internet.
'I'm not hearing as much as I used to,' Brown said.
Brown said that since many people buy saddles along with horses, it's often difficult to determine whether or not a saddle for sale is stolen or legit.
'It's a real challenge on saddles because a lot of them have been bought second hand,' Brown said. 'You have to ask a lot of questions.'
Mainzer said that the stockpile of equipment that Parks had when he was caught made him wonder whether the alleged thief had run out of places to sell the stolen gear.
Parks' arrest has sent a bit of a chill through the spine of the close-knit Washington County horse community.
And for Mainzer, it's given him some pause.
'You pick your farrier kind of like you pick your physician,' he said. 'You don't think twice about them after you've picked them and he was taking advantage of a lot of people. He had the perfect mo and nobody suspected him. He did good work.'
The Washington County Sheriff's office is still investigating the case, and is asking that anyone with information about Parks call Detective Jim George at 503-846-6093.