By Les Zaitz
NYSSA – Tom Rupe didn’t like being called “Coupon Boy” after a botched theft.
But his subsequent attempt to redeem himself in October at the Rodriquez Bakery earned him another label: prison inmate.
Rupe, 21, pleaded guilty in November to first-degree attempted robbery. He was sentenced to 90 months in prison – 7 ½ years.
Details of his crime are now public with the release by Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe of police reports in the case. It drew wide public attention at the time because Rupe used a machete during the robbery attempt. The reports show persistent digging by Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Pete Jensen to solve the case.
“This is a case that Deputy Jensen took extra steps, including going door to door and interviewing extra people to develop suspect information,” Wolfe said. “The extra effort resulted a suspect being identified and then arrested.”
Rupe’s troubles started the evening of Friday, Oct. 16, according to a statement he gave Jensen. He walked into the bakery when he saw the clerk go into the back and grabbed something off the counter.
“He said he thought it was full of money but when he looked he saw it was only coupons for free pizza,” Jensen reported. He said a friend made fun of him “about only stealing coupons and calling him ‘Coupon Boy.’”
Angered, Rupe drank some alcohol and, on the following day, walked back to the bakery.
“He felt bad about what he was going to do but he wanted the respect from his peers to boost his self confidence,” Jensen reported.
A surveillance video recorded Rupe walked in, placed a metal bat on the counter, and then asked the clerk to get two pastries. He paid for the pastries but when the cash register was open, Rupe took a machete out of his backpack and demanded cash.
Rupe, who was wearing a black ski mask, fled the bakery with the cash, according to Jensen’s report.
While seeking witnesses the next day, Jensen found one at the Simpson RV Park on Columbia Avenue. When Jensen described the robber, the witness said that sounded like a man living in a camper at the park who carried a machete in his pack. Another witness told police that Rupe and another man had gone “mudding” and described the vehicles they were using.
Jensen later stopped two vehicles driving through Nyssa, one towing the other. Rupe was a passenger in the towing vehicle, Jensen reported. He was taken into custody and questioned, eventually telling police his role in the attempted robbery.
He said after he got the money, he stashed the clothes, machete and backpack under a trailer at the RV park. He said he went to a local bar for a few drinks. He said he got $98 out of the robbery.
“Thomas said he already spent his allotment,” Jensen said.