Police teams searching remote rural area for thief who fled Harper area after gunfire

VALE – More than a dozen police officers were searching for an armed man in the high desert hills on the Harney-Malheur County line Tuesday afternoon after a theft at a local ranch went awry.

Travis Johnson, Malheur County undersheriff, said deputies from the Harney County Sheriff’s Office and the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office along with the Oregon State Police are pursuing an unidentified man who stole a tractor and a side-by-side recreational vehicle from a ranch north of Harper early Tuesday morning.

Johnson said the incident began at about 3:40 a.m. when a man driving a stolen pickup truck pulled into an unoccupied ranch and loaded the tractor and side-by-side onto a trailer. Johnson said an alert neighbor called 911 and then approached the ranch and fired a shot into the air.

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