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Byline: The Register-Guard

Police raise bar for

probing financial crimes

Limited resources and a growing caseload have prompted the Eugene Police Department to investigate only financial crimes cases with losses of at least $1,250.

Before the change was made Friday, cases with losses of $1,000 or more were assigned to detectives for investigation, financial crimes Sgt. Terry Fitzpatrick said.

Thanks in part to drug-related identity theft, the number of cases flowing into the investigations unit has increased and loss amounts have skyrocketed, Fitzpatrick said. The department doesn't have the people to investigate smaller crimes, he said.

Detectives already do not investigate cases with losses below $750 because those cases are misdemeanor crimes and currently are not being prosecuted by the Lane County district attorney. Felony cases below the new minimum that have a high probability of being solved could be assigned to patrol officers for investigation as time allows, Fitzpatrick said.

The sergeant urged residents to protect their personal information. Identity thieves commonly steal people's mail from unlocked mailboxes and break into cars in search of personal information.

Man throws cigarette, starts gas station fire

Eugene police were looking for a man who allegedly threw a lighted cigarette near the open fuel cap of a car at a gas station, igniting fumes and sending flames shooting into the air.

The incident happened just after 1 p.m. at the Chevron station on West Seventh Avenue, near Lincoln Avenue, according to Kerry Delf of the Eugene Police Department. For unknown reasons, the man was reportedly angry and agitated while inside the gas station's store. Police say that when he left he intentionally threw his cigarette toward the car's open gas cap.

The ignited fumes shot flames up 5 to 6 feet, near the station's fuel pumps. An employee hit the pumps' emergency shut-off switch. Delf said the man had no connection to the car's owner.

By the time police arrived, the fire was out and the man had fled to the south.

The man is described as white, about 35 years old, 6-foot-2, 165 pounds with short blond hair that is balding on top. He has several tatoos, including a dragon on one arm. He had facial stubble and was wearing blue pants and a green shirt with white stripes. However, the man's shirt caught fire during the incident and he may have discarded it.

Anyone with information about the incident should call officer Robert Rios at 682-5154, Ext. 1168, or dial 911 if they know the man's whereabouts.

REGION

Search for missing men leads to body in house

ALSEA - An investigation into the disappearance of two Albany men has led law enforcement officials to a residence near this Coast Range town, where police found a body but have yet to confirm its identity.

Detectives do not yet know the cause of death, the Benton County sheriff's office said Tuesday. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Police arrested Mitchel Miller, 19, Monday night on a charge of first-degree burglary at the house where police found the body.

A missing persons investigation led to the Alsea residence, where Miller allegedly was staying without the owner's permission.

The Albany Police Department, Benton County sheriff's office, Corvallis Police Department and Oregon State Police continue to search for 31-year-old Jesse Reesman and 22-year-old Shane Buckley, who were reported missing over the weekend. Detectives found Reesman's vehicle early Saturday morning north of Albany.

- Register-Guard
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Title Annotation:Crime; METRO
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 25, 2005
Words:570
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