Columbia County Sheriff's deputies have taken a significant bite out of a mail theft ring out of Columbia County and operating in Multnomah, Washington and Columbia Counties. Thus far, deputies have arrested three individuals on Theft and other charges associated with stolen mail from residences in Portland, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Scappoose, Warren and St. Helens.
Last week, deputies ce began investigating an incident where a a Warren residenthad three personal checks stolen from her mail box and deposited at a US Bank ATM in St Helens, OR. Ford had placed her checks in her mailbox to pay her bills. The checks were deposited into the personal account of a male named Rodney Oates.
After auditing Oates' personal account, investigators found that there were twenty stolen checks deposited into that account fraudulently between 12/03/2016 and 01/03/2017. Photographs obtained by ATM cameras from each deposit revealed that four different people made deposits and or cash withdraws from Oates account. The suspects were identified as Oates, Michael Welch, Charles Lockridge III, and a fourth, unidentified suspect.
On 01/07/2016, Deputies and members of the St. Helens Police Department executed search warrants at 56813 Raasee Lane, Warren, and 280 St Helens Street Apt A, St Helens. During the search warrants, large amounts of stolen mail and check stubs were recovered. Oates was present and taken into custody for his involvement in the case. He was later released pending completion of the investigation.
Charles Lockridge III was located and arrested on 01/11/2016 while walking back to his apartment at 280 St Helens Street Aprt A. Lockridge is currently in custody at the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
On 01/12/2016 a Columbia County Deputy responded to a possible intoxicated driver who crashed near the intersection of Bennett Road and Old Portland Road. When the Deputy arrived, the driver of the vehicle was identified as Michael Welch. The vehicle that Welch was driving was a stolen Ford F150 from Hillsboro, OR. Welch was taken into custody and the stolen truck was seized as evidence.
On 01/13/2016 the Columbia County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant on the stolen truck. During the search warrant, Deputies recovered a large sum of stolen mail.
During the course of the investigation, large amounts of stolen mail and packages were seized from victims who live in Portland, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Scappoose, Warren, St Helens, and Columbia City. Deputies are continuing to investigate the incident and are contacting victims.
The suspects have been found to target mail boxes, steal mail, and search for checks in the stolen mail. The suspects then take the checks to an ATM, deposit them, and immediately withdraw cash from the ATM. They then return to the bank within days and withdraw more money from the account once the check clears. The total amount stolen from the suspects is still unknown and part of the ongoing investigation.