Arrest made in theft of wildfire detection equipment in Oregon

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thief battery solar panel Oregon fire lookout camera
Person suspected of stealing solar panel and battery from Oregon DOF fire camera system August 14, 2022. Image from surveillance footage.

An anonymous tip led to the arrest of a thief who broke into an Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) lookout tower in the Prospect area last week [and stole batteries and solar panels used to power the lookout tower’s fire detection camera]. The suspect, Chad Allen McPherson, 30, of Prospect, was indicted today, August 23, by a Grand Jury and charged with second-degree burglary, first-degree theft, first-degree criminal mischief, possession of burglary tools, and felon in possession of a restricted weapon. McPherson is lodged in the Jackson County Jail and due to a parole violation for felon in possession of a firearm is not eligible for pre-trial release.

McPherson and another suspect were captured on surveillance footage breaking into the tower around 12:45 on Sunday, August 14. The additional suspect shown in the surveillance footage has not been identified. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) detectives have identified a person of interest and are actively working to identify the additional suspect by analyzing latent prints and submitting DNA.

JCSO detectives arrested McPherson during a traffic stop Friday after receiving the tip and matching his photos to the surveillance footage. After searching his vehicle, detectives discovered burglary tools. During a search warrant of his property on the 2000 block of Shelly Lane in Prospect, detectives found a restricted weapon he was prohibited from possessing as a convicted felon. Investigators also discovered a black-market marijuana grow on the property. Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) detectives served a search warrant and destroyed 256 cannabis plants and 300 lbs. of processed black-market marijuana on the property. There was no licensing for any type of cannabis growing, handling, or processing at this location.

Later Friday, Dispatch received a call about a duffel bag at the intersection of 1st Street and Highway 62 with a note which read “call the cops.” JCSO deputies retrieved the bag and it contained items matching that of the stolen ODF equipment. The solar panels and batteries are still missing. The theft disabled ODF’s early fire detection capability for the northeastern portion of Jackson County near Prospect. ODF is currently working to get the camera system back up and running.

This case is ongoing with detectives working additional leads. If you have any information on the additional suspect or the whereabouts of the missing equipment, call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case 22-4725.

From the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon.

After the arrest the Oregon Department of Forestry said, “Some of the equipment has been retrieved, however we’re still moving forward in ordering the parts and pieces we need to get our camera back up and running; early fire detection is one of our top priorities.”

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

5 thoughts on “Arrest made in theft of wildfire detection equipment in Oregon”

  1. Dumbshats should know cameras are everywhere ??‍♂️✔️ And most of all crime doesn’t pay ?


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