Police officials believe events are connected

A map put together by the Columbia County Sheriff's Office marks thefts and burglaries that have struck the St. Helens area in the month of May. Burglars have repeatedly struck St. Helens-area residences since early May, law enforcement officials say, and many of the targeted homes are just outside the city’s western limits.

DickersonSince mid-May, Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said burglars have made off with jewelry, cash and firearms from homes on Sykes Road, Firlok Park Street, Gable Road, Bachelor Flat Road, East and West Kappler Roads, Pittsburg Road and Robinette Road.

“They’re most likely related,” Dickerson said. “They’re all confined in a certain area.”

“They all fall within a narrow window,” he added.

Dickerson said a burglary in Scappoose, in which a .22 caliber rifle was stolen, has similarities to the St. Helens-area incidents.

St. Helens Police Chief Terry Moss said the burglaries reported near St. Helens are more numerous than what is typical.

Moss“Over the past week, we’ve seen a number of burglaries just outside the city that seem to be a pattern,” he said. “It seems to me we’re seeing a lot of the locations are just outside the city ... this, to me, seems like more than we usually see.”

Dickerson said he didn’t know exactly how many burglaries had occurred in the area, only noting they were “numerous.” He said deputies are working to solve the crimes by patrolling victimized areas and pulling over suspicious vehicles for other violations.

“We made one stop the other day,” he said, noting there were two men in the vehicle. “We had a couple warrants on a car. One fled. We never caught the guy.”

Dickerson said deputies pulled a police scanner out of that vehicle, but it is uncertain whether the men were involved in the burglaries.

“We’re hitting the area hard with what we have,” Dickerson said. “But we only have one guy at a time. We also have reserve guys out there too, trying to at least be seen in the area, handing out fliers.”

Dickerson said the burglaries have been occurring during the day, when people are at work and homes are largely unoccupied. A Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Facebook post noted suspects are likely knocking on doors before entering homes to see whether anyone is home.

“In this scenario, if it turns out a targeted home has someone inside, the suspects will usually pretend to be out of gasoline for their car, or say they are looking for someone, or some other ruse,” the post reads. “If someone comes to your door and you do not know who they are, try to note a license plate or description of the car they are in. You can call us with any tips and leave a message on our recorded line at 503-366-4698.”

In a notice distributed to affected neighborhoods, the Sheriff’s Office recommends reporting any suspicious activity and communicating with neighbors about when residents may be out of town. The notice also recommends locking windows, trimming shrubs to remove hiding spots and documenting the serial numbers of valuable items.

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