Police track down suspects in two car thefts

Two alleged car thieves have been arrested in Hood River County within the past week while attempting to flee from police.

Delbert Calkins, 23, of Portland, was arraigned for stealing a vehicle in Circuit Court on Monday, just two days before Gabriel Baker, 27, of Myrtle Creek was arrested in a separate incident.

Hood River District Attorney John Sewell said both suspects were driving vehicles that had been reported as stolen and both have prior criminal histories.

On Wednesday, search dogs and a helicopter scouted for Baker after he ran into a wooded area near Frankton Road. Law enforcement officials took up the chase after they learned that the 1997 White Ford Mustang he had parked on Country Club Road had been stolen. They began investigating his actions after being alerted by a Wal-Mart employee that Baker had returned to the store after reportedly trying to steal about $2,000 of electronic equipment two days earlier. Although Baker had left the business when they arrived, police located the vehicle and then launched a full-scale search. The suspect was taken into custody several hours later and also charged for the attempt to elude.

According to reports, about $800 of CDs and electronic goods from Wal-Mart were found during a search of the car. Baker reportedly claimed that he had borrowed the vehicle from an unnamed friend and did not know what had been stored inside. In addition to car theft and elude, Calkins has been charged with criminal mischief and purchasing an illegal amount of pseudoephedrine, a cold medicine that is an ingredient in methamphetamine manufacture.

A Safeway employee called for police help after Calkins allegedly ran out of the store with more than $50 in grocery items on Sunday. The stolen merchandise ranged from beef steaks to toothpaste, film and deodorant. Once police located the suspect’s 1993 Plymouth Voyager, Calkins allegedly sped east along city roadways and crashed into a parked car at the intersection of Second and Oak streets. He then reportedly jumped out of the vehicle he had been driving and ran toward the Second Street overpass before being taken into custody. During the chase he also reportedly rammed into a police patrol car, causing at least $750 of damage. At the time of his arrest Calkins allegedly told officers that he had “blacked out” and couldn’t remember any events from that afternoon.

The two suspects are now being held in NORCOR, Baker on $5,000 cash bail and Calkins on $10,000.

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