Tuesday, October 28, 2003
A bucket truck impounded as an “inoperable” vehicle by the City of Cascade Locks was removed from a fenced lot last week.
Hood River District Attorney John Sewell said an unknown suspect apparently drove away in the truck after partially dismantling the gate. He said the crime apparently occurred between the evening hours of Oct. 16 and the morning hours of Oct. 17. Because the case is under an active investigation, Sewell declined further comment.
“We are on the lookout for the truck because we want to know who has it,” said City Manager Robert Willoughby, who has turned the case over to law enforcement authorities.
Randy Bates, the owner of the vehicle, claims the city was negligent in its responsibilities for allowing the theft.
“It’s really clear that a $40,000 truck is not an abandoned vehicle — I have been robbed by the government of everything I own,” said Bates, who is now living in a tent on his Wasco Street property with wife, Sundie, and son, Justin, 16.
He claims the civil rights of his family were violated by an “illegal” seizure of his property in late July. The city removed the bucket truck along with nine other vehicles (most not belonging to Bates) and six travel trailers, one which was being used as a temporary home. Bates said numerous items of personal property were also taken or destroyed during the removal of the vehicles. City officials took that action after ruling that Bates had violated the nuisance ordinance by having unregistered vehicles on his land. Bates has challenged the city code because state law allows vehicle owners to avoid paying registration fees for little-used cars by purchasing two trip permits each year. He said the remainder of the time, vehicles are allowed to be parked on private property without being considered abandoned. The city has released the majority of vehicles to their rightful owners and has offered to allow Bates to redeem his property if he pays about $9,000 in towing, legal costs, staff expenses, and other costs.
Bates believes the Justice Court committed an unconstitutional act by initiating the order for a seizure of his property, especially since there were no vehicles specifically listed on the document. He said because that court did not have the jurisdiction to take that action he has refused to file an appeal or submit to its authority.