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Police close in on suspects in theft.

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - One suspect is under arrest, another is at large and a third man is sought for questioning after Springfield police and Lane County sheriff's officials found some of the firefighting equipment stolen over the weekend from the Mohawk Valley Rural Fire District.

Tools, specialized medical gear, firefighting suits, radios, generators and other equipment worth an estimated $100,000 were taken in a burglary that apparently spanned Saturday and Sunday at the district's unmanned station along Old Mohawk Road.

Springfield police broke the case Tuesday afternoon when they served a routine search warrant for a methamphetamine investigation in the 4100 block of Camelia Street and saw firefighting gear stenciled with the fire district's initials, Sgt. Rick Putnam said.

Fire officials estimated that the gear found on Camelia Street was worth about $20,000. They had not determined by day's end how much of the district's property remained to be found, although some had been recovered from at least five locations, fire district spokesman Gregory Jack said.

One of two men in the Camelia Street house told police about the burglary, Putnam said. Springfield police then called in sheriff's officials to pick up the investigation, he said.

Sheriff's detectives soon got another search warrant for 1250 B St. in Springfield, where they recovered more property and arrested Daniel Ray Deardorff, 24. He was held in the Lane County Jail on three counts of second-degree burglary and vehicle break-in and one count of methamphetamine possession, according to jail records.

The investigation then led to a search at 7089 Bluebelle Way in Springfield. The resident, Bo Mcrae Bryant, 23, was not home at the time and is wanted as a suspect in the fire district burglary, Sheriff's Lt. Michael Sanford said in a news release.

Investigators are searching for a third man, Bradley Roberts Rofinot, 25, of Pleasant Hill, because they believe that he may know more about the thefts. Rofinot is not a suspect in the fire district burglary, Sanford said.

Both Bryant and Rofinot have prior convictions for drug possession, according to court records.

Since the burglary, the fire district has had an outpouring of public support and offers of donations, even from out of state, Jack said. The district is not seeking donations and won't until the extent of the loss is known, he said.

"They're calling and asking. We really appreciate the support," Jack said.

However, district volunteers wonder why Mohawk fire officials were not notified by the sheriff's office after a passer-by phoned the sheriff to report suspicious activity at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The burglary apparently still was in progress when fire officials learned indirectly about the report and checked the station on Sunday night. Gear was found stacked outside to be picked up.

"We're a little frustrated that this happened and we don't know why it happened," Jack said.

Neither does Lane County Sheriff Jan Clements, who said Wednesday that he will determine why no one in his department responded to the report or called fire district officials to relay the information.

He said he redirected his officers to pursue the burglary investigation because the theft of district equipment increased public risk in the event of an emergency.

Clements noted that budget reductions long ago stripped his office of resources to investigate property crimes in rural areas.

However, he said patrol deputies and supervisors have flexibility, depending on what other calls for service are active at the time.

Clements said a report of suspicious activity at a fire station may not be a higher priority than work his deputies were doing at the time of the report - but that has not yet been determined. He said that issue will be addressed when the burglary investigation is completed.

"We are going to Monday-morning quarterback this," Clements said. "But we're going to put it in context."
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Title Annotation:Crime; Officials find some of the stolen firefighting equipment while serving a routine search warrant during a drug investigation
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 25, 2004
Words:643
Previous Article:FOR THE RECORD.
Next Article:BRIEFLY.


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