Portland police have arrested a city employee as part of an ongoing auto theft investigation.
Barbara Lorraine Peterson, 53, was arrested after arriving at work today at the Portland Bureau of Transportation's (PBOT) Abandoned Auto Section.
Detectives interviewed Peterson then booked her into the Multnomah County Jail on seven counts of Official Misconduct, four counts of Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle (UUMV) and three counts of UUMV.
Detectives are conducting a significant auto theft investigation involving several people and locations, including West Coast Car Crushing. as part of that investigation, they learned that a city employee was providing information on abandoned vehicles to an illicit tow driver, who would then steal the cars by towing them to West Coast Car Crushing, where they would be crushed and sold as scrap metal.
Detectives opened a secondary investigation into these allegations and identified Peterson as the employee. Police say they learned Peterson was accepting cash payments for providing information on vehicles to the tow driver.
Based on the investigation, detectives believe that Peterson was acting alone and without the knowledge of the city or any other city employees.
This arrest will be presented to a Multnomah County Grand Jury to consider charges.
This remains ongoing investigation involving the following agencies: The Portland Police Bureau's North Precinct and Detective Division, the Oregon Department of Justice, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, the Oregon State Police, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the Oregon Department of Human Services, the Clark County (WA) Sheriff's Office, and the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.