Car thieves shut behind bars

Two car thieves pleaded guilty in Hood River Circuit Court last week to separate crimes.

Hood River District Attorney John Sewell said the cases highlight the many problems that arrive in the local community via freeway travelers.

“A significant number of our cases arise from people coming off Interstate 84 and that ties up manpower, time, and money for all of our law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Delbert Calkins, 23, of Portland, and Gabriel Baker, 27, of Myrtle Creek both pleaded guilty on Nov. 25 for their respective actions. The two men had prior criminal histories and were arrested within a one-week period in early November after attempting to elude police in stolen vehicles.

“It was so unusual to have such similar cases like this in the same week, especially when neither suspect was from around here,” said Sewell.

Baker not only admitted to unauthorized use of a vehicle but to theft, both felony offenses. He was ordered by Judge Donald Hull to spend 13 months in prison, followed by one year of post-prison supervision. Calkins was placed behind jail bars for 30 days and given 18 months of supervised probation, with conditions that he not consume intoxicants or associate with users. He had also admitted in court to possessing an illegal amount of Pseudoephedrine, a cold medicine that is used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

On Nov. 5, police used search dogs and a helicopter to track Baker after he ran into a wooded area near Frankton Road. Officers 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 attempting to steal about $2,000 of electronic equipment two days earlier.

Although Baker had left the scene by the time they arrived, police located the vehicle and then launched a full-scale search and found him several hours later. About $800 of CDs and electronic goods from Wal-Mart were found during a search of the car.

On Nov. 1 Calkins had been jailed after fleeing a police pursuit that ended when he crashed into a parked car in downtown Hood River. During the chase he also rammed into a police patrol car, causing at least $750 of damage. The incident began when a Safeway employee reported that Calkins had run out of the business without paying for more than $50 in grocery items.

The missing merchandise ranged from beef steaks to toothpaste, film and deodorant. The chase was on when the officers located the suspect’s 1998 Plymouth Voyager a short distance away from the store.

He was apprehended after he jumped out of the stolen van and ran toward the Second Street overpass on foot.

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