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Multi-state bandit caught sleeping

After Washington escape, Portland police put the cuffs on the fugitive

caught red-handedA suspect believed responsible for a four-state crime spree — including incidents at Sandy businesses — is behind bars at the Inverness Jail in Portland.

A Clark County, Wash., deputy noticed a U-Haul truck parked in the 7900 block of Highway 99 on May 1. The engine was running and a man — later identified as suspect Jason Edward Stidham, 35 — was reported asleep behind the wheel.

The truck had been hurriedly packed full of valuable items that police are considering stolen.

A deputy reported Stidham tried to hide his identity, and then fled the scene while the deputy was checking records.

The truck was reported stolen from Portland, while its license plates were reported stolen from Arizona.

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO:  - Some of the evidence in this multi-state theft case is seen inside the stolen U-Haul truck where Jason E. Stidham was discovered, sleeping in the cab.Nearly a week later on May 7, a Portland police officer arrested Stidham, and he is being held without bail at the jail.

His list of charges, which is not yet complete, includes two fugitive warrants from Reno, Nev., unlawful use of a vehicle in Washington, several felony counts of possession of controlled substances and two counts of giving false information to an officer.

Stidham is the suspect, based on evidence and the contents of the U-Haul truck, in thefts in Nevada and Oregon, including cabins in Rhododendron and businesses in Sandy, Oregon City and Canby. He also is the prime suspect in the Martinazzi Square Shopping Center (Tualatin) thefts that were accomplished by cutting holes in the interior walls of a series of strip-mall businesses. That haul netted Stidham, among many other items, about $44,000 in prescription medicines from a pharmacy.

He also is the suspect in a series of stolen vehicle incidents, where he would allegedly steal a vehicle and drive it to another state or city, then park it and steal another nearby vehicle to drive to another city, repeatedly. He came to Oregon after alleged thefts in Nevada, followed by thefts in Redmond, Rhododendron, Sandy, Canby and Gladstone. He also is suspected of thefts in Northern California.

At the Sandy businesses, Detective Jason Bickle said he had collected fingerprints and DNA evidence to identify a person of interest. That evidence, no doubt, will be compared to Stidham’s fingerprints and DNA.

The U-Haul truck contained many of the items reported stolen in Tualatin and other cities. Officers now are trying to match criminal incidents with the truckload of evidence.

“The stolen U-Haul was stuffed,” according to the police report, “with trash cans filled with medication, furniture, tools, DVD players, stereos, silverware, toys, plates, TVs, rugs, sleds, military gear, and even an urn containing the remains of one victim’s mother.”

Detective Bickle’s advice to business owners is to increase their security measures and instruct their employees to follow security procedures.

“The buildings that were burglarized in Sandy did not have silent or audible alarms or cameras,” Bickle said. “That’s something for all the businesses in Sandy to consider.”

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