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Sheriffs deputy nabs car thief following chase


Suspect had been released from jail only weeks earlier

A Columbia County Sheriff’s Office deputy working a Thursday, Jan. 10 traffic patrol arrested a car theft suspect who had recently been paroled for prior car thefts after observing the alleged thief’s suspicious driving near Yankton Elementary School.

Deputy William Hass had been on patrol near the Yankton school around 10:27 p.m. when the suspect, Joshua K. Hayes, 31, of Portland is alleged to have been driving east toward St. Helens. When Hayes noticed Hass’ patrol car, he slammed on the brakes and then resumed driving, said Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson.

“He slammed on the breaks when he saw the deputy. It was one of those panic modes that an average driver wouldn’t do,” Dickerson said.

Haas fell in behind the suspect vehicle and followed it from Brinn Road and Pittsburg Road. Haas was in the process of confirming a match on the license plate on the 1999 Nissan as that belonging to a reported stolen vehicle out of St. Helens. Before he could finish a call for backup, however, the suspect accelerated in an attempt to flee.

The suspect continued east on Pittsburg Road until turning right on Barr Avenue and crossing into the St. Helens city limits. He eventually crashed the vehicle on Snow Street just before 10:30 p.m. and was taken into custody. Dickerson said he didn’t know how fast he had been driving, but said the pursuit lasted no more than three minutes.

“The part with lights and sirens I think was pretty short,” he said.

Hayes was lodged in the Columbia County Jail on two counts of unauthorized use of a vehicle and one count each of attempting to elude in a vehicle, attempting to elude on foot, being a criminal driving with a revoked license and parole violations.

The Nissan was turned over to the St. Helens Police Department.

Hayes told Haas after his arrest he had recently been released from prison for a prior motor vehicle theft conviction. He was on probation out of Multnomah County.

As a reoffender, Hayes will become a statistic in Oregon’s recidivism rate, or the rate at which previously incarcerated criminals commit new crimes upon release and return to jail. In September, the Oregon Department of Corrections reported the state is one of seven that experienced significant reductions in recidivism over the three-year period based on releases between 2005 and 2007.

Oregon had reported a reduction of 8 percent, resulting in 138 fewer individuals returning to custody. The report cited several in-prison programs as helping improve the state’s recidivism rate.