Sheriff’s office logs auto thefts, break in around Vale

VALE – The Malheur County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a spate of thefts and vehicle break-ins that occurred over a five-day period.

“It is troublesome. You hate to see something like that in a small town. We get lulled to sleep and people forget to lock their doors. This is a good reminder,” said Travis Johnson, Malheur County undersheriff.

The crimes occurred over a five-day period. The first reported case was June 5 and the last one was logged June 10.

So far there are no leads in the cases.

Sheriff Brian Wolfe said he does not think the crime spree is over.

“We anticipate there will be more. They were not caught and usually behavior like that is repeated unless it was just someone traveling through – which I doubt,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe said money and electronic devices –“anything of value” – was stolen.

He said the crimes were not confined to a specific area but “were all over town.”

“We have some plans in place, in trying to be prepared for a next time,” Wolfe said.

However, beefing up car patrols by his office may not be the best answer, he said.

“Because it is the middle of the night and they can see and hear that vehicle coming. All you have to do is duck behind something,” said Wolfe.

He said foot and bike patrols may be a better approach.

 “We are asking people if they see anything suspicious to report it,” said Wolfe.

In other police news, Wolfe said the investigation into the vandalism at Nyssa’s Hilltop Cemetery is still going, but few clues have been discovered.

“It’s been very frustrating to us,” said Wolfe.

He said usually it’s only a short time before deputies discover information that they can act upon.

“And we have not received information on it as far as who did it,” said Wolfe.

Hilltop Cemetery was hit by vandals in the early morning hours of May 2, resulting in damage to 39 grave stones, markers and other pieces. The cost of the damage was estimated at about $50,000.

The case generated high public interest and the vandals used sledgehammers and other tools.

Wolfe said right now two deputies and a detective are working the case.

“We were hoping to have it wrapped up by now,” said Wolfe. “I guess the reason this is frustrating is that we know there are people with information but it just isn’t coming in yet.”

Wolfe said a reward for information has been issued and usually that generates leads.

“This is one we really want to solve,” said Wolfe.

Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.