Ashland theft linked to others at construction sites in county

A thief or thieves have been targeting construction sites around Jackson County, making off with more than $70,000 in heavy construction equipment from six different sites, Medford police said.

The culprit has struck three times at the south Medford interchange project at East Barnett Road and Alba Drive, taking equipment such as soil compactors that would need more than one person to move, police said. Those thefts appear to be linked with construction equipment thefts in Ashland, Gold Hill and Central Point, police said.

"We do believe the person to be local, but we are wondering what they are able to do with all this heavy equipment," said Medford police Detective Sgt. Mike Budreau. "It's so large that it should be difficult to hide. That's why we are hoping someone knows someone who has acquired property recently."

The most recent incident happened Friday in Ashland. Between $5,000 and $7,000 of construction equipment was stolen from a building site for 15 low-income housing units being built on the north side of town by the nonprofit Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation. As many as 40 power tools, including saws, drills, nail guns, compressors and other items were taken from a locked shed.

At the south Medford interchange site, Eugene-based Wildish Construction, Medford-based Pacific Electrical Contractors, and the Western Oregon Division of Knife River Corp. together lost about $30,000 in gear.

John Elbon, vice president of Pacific Electrical Contractors, said his company lost about $10,000 in equipment, including drill motors, saws, pipe-threading machines and a generator.

"These are items that are so large it would take multiple trips in vehicles and multiple people to load," Budreau said.

The company's trailer was broken into, along with those of Wildish and Knife River on Nov. 3. Thieves struck again Nov. 6 and Nov. 19, Budreau said.

"It was a complete surprise to us," Elbon said. "We had only had our trailer out there for a couple of days."

Some of Pacific Electrical Contractors' equipment is labeled with the company name and a tool code, Elbon said.

"That's not to say they didn't grind it off," Elbon said.

Equipment also was stolen Nov. 7 from 3033 Kirkland St. in Central Point and 62 N. River Road in Gold Hill and on Nov. 19 at 8461 Highbanks Road in Central Point and 8301 Table Rock Road in Central Point.

"We are pretty confident the same person is doing the thefts," Budreau said.

Anyone who has information about these cases is asked to call 774-2230 in Medford or Crime Stoppers of Southern Oregon at 800-3-DETECT (800-333-8328).

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or

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