Thief drives up property crime rates

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PORTLAND (AP) — A prolific thief motived by a drug problem helped boost property crime rates in multiple Oregon counties is now doing a 14-year prison sentence.

Randy Steven Coenen Jr. was convicted of theft, identity theft, burglary and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charges as part of a plea deal and was sentenced in January.

Coenen, 38, stole from businesses, and after arrests, was often quickly discharged.

Happy Valley Detective Gil Millett of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said thieves often specialize. “But Randy just did everything,” Millett said. “He was stealing trucks. He was stealing cargo. He was passing bad checks and breaking into businesses. He was just a multitasking bad guy.”

Oregon’s largest cities saw larger increases in property crime during the first six months of 2012 than many other large cities. The crime often takes a back seat to violent crimes for police departments.

Coenen after his arrest acknowledged stealing to buy methamphetamine.

By 2012, he had nine felony convictions as an adult.

He was arrested April 10, 2012, in burglaries at three businesses. A day later, he was released.

On Sept. 4, he was pulled over driving a stolen truck, charged with aggravated theft and other charges, and released the next day. “He got kicked right back out. They wouldn’t hold him for us,” Millett said.

Coenen was one of the 908 inmates released when Multnomah County jails reached 95 percent capacity.

Chuck French, a former Multnomah County deputy district attorney, said jail releases likely add a “substantial part” to a rise in property crimes.

Investigators tied Coenen to thefts of cargo delivered to a warehouse in Clackamas. Sheriff’s deputies investigated it Sept. 7.

“Lo and behold, I see 32 pallets of still-in-the-wrapper Diet Pepsi cans,” said Bill O’Connell, PepsiCo’s California-based regional security manager. A search with a warrant found racks of stolen Nabisco products.

Millett linked Coenen and an accomplice to 25 to 30 thefts of commercial trucks between Portland and Keizer from May through September 2012.

“It’s not rocket science,” Coenen told Millett. “I am not the smartest criminal in the world. I just have a drug problem.”

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