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Burglary at Hollywood Lights thwarted by swarm of cops

by: ERIC NORBERG - This stolen Jeep was disabled when the driver, a suspected burglar, lost control of it a block from Hollywood Lights, in north Westmoreland, where the break-in occurred in the 3 am hour of October 10. Property from the business was found in the vehicle by detectives, and the driver was arrested.The lighting and rigging equipment provided by Hollywood Lights, at 5215 S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard, at the north end of Westmoreland, is used in almost every television program or motion pictured shot in the Pacific Northwest – but remains hidden behind the scenes.

It briefly became the center of attention on October 10th, at 3:33 am, when under cover of darkness, burglars broke into one of the firm’s shops, triggering a silent alarm.

The first Portland Police Bureau district patrol officer arriving at the scene saw two suspects run from the business and get into a green Jeep Cherokee, according to Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

When the vehicle drove away from the building with headlights off, “The officer initiated a traffic stop,” Simpson said, “but the Cherokee fled from police.”

After an extremely short pursuit, the Cherokee spun out at S.E. 18th Avenue and Insley Street – a mere 300 feet from the scene of the crime.

Determined not to be captured, two suspects threw open the Jeep’s doors and bolted away on foot.

Additional officers responded, and a Police K-9 Unit quickly located one of the suspects. That man, later identified as 57-year-old Leslie Lynn Fent, was taken to a Portland hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash. After that, he was booked into the Justice Center about five hours later at 9:20 am.

“The second suspect has eluded capture,” reported Simpson. “He is described as a white male in his 20s, 5'8" tall, 150 pounds.”

The Jeep’s broken steering column indicated it was stolen – a notion soon confirmed by its nearby owner.

“Luckily for us, everything they had stolen was still in the car,” Hollywood Lights Sales Manager Kevin Fuller told THE BEE. “It doesn’t look like any of it was damaged.”

About the police, Fuller said, “They did a great job. It's not very often that they’re able to catch thieves red-handed like that. The situation turned out great for us, because we were able to get our stuff back.”

Fent racked up numerous charges, including DUII and other vehicle-theft and traffic-related charges – and two felony counts of burglary, two felony theft charges, three counts of criminal mischief, and even Interfering with a Peace Officer.

He remains lodged in Multnomah County Inverness Jail with combined bail totaling more than $55,000, and detectives are still on the trail of the alleged accomplice.