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Early morning chase bags grease-covered thief

Morning commuters traveling near the intersection of State Highway 26 and Highway 212 were startled to see a man covered in grease fleeing from a red pickup truck at 7:30 a.m. last Wednesday and called police.

The pursuers are employees at a nearby auto wrecking yard, and their quarry was a suspected metal thief, according to Detective Jim Strovink, public information officer with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.

'This is a U-Pull-It type of place, and they have had a problem with a rash of metal thefts,' said Strovink. 'The owner came in and heard a commotion out in the back lot. He went out there and started chasing this guy.'

Police rushed to the scene after reports came in that shots had been fired. The proprietor of the business told police that he had fired a single shot into the ground, in order to frighten the suspect.

When deputies located him, the suspect was hiding behind a tree in the vicinity of SE 312th Avenue.

'He was all greasy,' Strovink said. 'They found his sweatshirt and a camper's light belonging to him at the yard, along with a big pile of catalytic converters he was stealing.'

Further investigation revealed that the suspect, Neal Anthony Lee, was wanted in Multnomah County on charges of possessing methamphetamines. He was lodged at the Clackamas Count Jail for burglary in the second degree on $15,000 bail, with an additional $6,000 bail for the charges from Multnomah County.

'We've got a tweaker in custody, so hopefully this will cut down on his metal theft activities,' said Strovink.