Benjamin Stewart arraigned in Clackamas County Circuit Court on Mar. 31
by: Contributed photo, Benjamin Alexander Stewart

A Centralia, Wash., man is accused of stealing 300 feet or so of conduit wire from a construction area in Estacada.

Benjamin Alexander Stewart, 29, was arraigned March 31 in Clackamas County Circuit Court on charges of second-degree theft and first-degree criminal mischief in connection with the incident, which occurred at around 1l:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29.

A Clackamas County deputy sheriff on routine patrol in Estacada entered a residential construction area east of the high school at the intersection of Cemetery Road and Cascadian Ridge. Once there, he became suspicious of a green Mustang with conduit wire hanging out of the trunk.

The deputy got out of his patrol car to investigate, and saw a man watching him from about 300 feet away. Then he heard a second person running through the brush, apparently fleeing the area. The man who had been watching the deputy was identified as Stewart, who told the deputy he was from Oregon City and that he had no idea how the conduit wire, clearly hanging out of the open trunk of the Mustang, had gotten there, the report said.

The deputy, having placed Stewart in handcuffs, proceeded to investigate the Mustang.

There he found three sections of conduit wire totaling approximately 300 feet and what he described as "the largest pair of bolt cutters I have ever seen". The deputy also reported that the bolt cutters had mud on the jaw-end and that the mud was fresh.

Further investigation of the scene revealed that the conduit wire had been stolen from six electrical utility boxes that had been pried from the ground and forced open, as well as from the insides of five utility street-light poles.

Stewart was booked at the Clackamas County Jail and was released from custody after his arraignment.

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