Anthony Travis Bodda, aged 21, and Alexander Justin Jones, aged 36, were caught looting evacuated homes in Oregon after wildfires drove away over 500,000 people.
They were arrested by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, having led the officers on quite a goose chase.
They were arrested on Thursday evening near Detroit, Oregon. In Oregon, about 31 people are confirmed dead because of the fire. Many more are still missing, with extensive search operations underway. These wildfires have since spread to California and Washington State.
After looting residences near Marion County, Bodda and Jones were driving away in a van. Highway deputies spotted the two, driving past the speed limit near the Gates Region area. The deputies had received a call regarding a suspicious van driving east of Salem.
Bodda and Jones, in an attempt to get away, drove through a golf course, fleeing the main highway. Authorities followed them, setting up spike strips, which proved successful. Both looters tried to run away on foot but were subdued rather quickly.
Bodda was tackled and arrested on the golf course. Jones managed to escape to a nearby goat shed. The county’s K9 unit found Jones after 20 minutes of searching, making an immediate arrest.
Both men are being charged with burglary, theft, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, and interfering with a peace officer.
According to the Marion County Sheriff, Joe Kast, it is disappointing “that while in a state of emergency these people would victimize members of our community.”
Kast elaborated that even in a state of emergency, the sheriff department is filled with committed individuals who will hold such criminals accountable.
The Oregon wildfires are becoming deadlier by the day. Apart from their adverse environmental consequence, the death toll is rising each day. Authorities predict a sharp rise in the toll once major population centers are searched.
While firefighters are hopeful the fires will die soon, there is still a lot of damage to uncover. Governor Kate Brown emphasized the need to evacuate people to ‘different levels of evacuation zones’.