Tip Helps Hermiston Police Recover ‘Loads’ of Stolen Property

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The Hermiston Police Department is searching for a suspect believed to be involved in a string of burglaries in and around Hermiston and Umatilla.

The Hermiston Police Department received a tip on April 5 that stolen property was being stored at a location in the 200 block of NW 12th Street. Acting on that tip, officers seized five pickup loads of stolen property from that location. Investigators also learned of two storage units in the city of Umatilla that contained additional stolen property.

In the month prior to the tip, HPD had received only one report of a storage unit burglary. Lt. Randy Studebaker of the HPD said the practice of cutting an owner’s lock and replacing it with another is a common tactic used in storage unit burglaries. Since the owners often don’t return for weeks or even months, the lock prevents property managers and others from detecting the theft for quite some time.

Officers contacted the management of a storage facility where they suspected a burglary may have occurred, and the management assisted with identifying an additional victim. Using this information, officers obtained a warrant to search the storage units in Umatilla. The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, the Umatilla Police Department, and the Pendleton Police Department assisted with the execution of this warrant.

Some of the stolen items recovered by the Hermiston Police Department. (Photo: HPD)

During that search, investigators seized several truckloads of stolen items including, but not limited to, electronics, furniture, sporting equipment, clothing, tools, auto parts, and even small keepsakes and photos the victims had stored in their storage units.

“Even after returning truckloads of property to the victims who had already filed reports, we had seized so much stolen property that we had to borrow a large moving truck from Walchli Farms to transport the remaining property to the police station,” said Studebaker.

During the search of the storage units, officers also located what appeared to be military ordnance, such as anti-tank rounds, which had to be inspected by bomb technicians from the Oregon State Police. While some of the items were found to be inert and harmless, the status of some of the rounds could not be verified through a visual inspection or X-ray. Studebaker said they were turned over to explosive ordnance disposal technicians from the Oregon Air National Guard for safe destruction.

Studebaker said the investigation led them to a suspect.

“We developed information that leads us to believe Russell Scott Greene Jr., age 36, of Hermiston, is involved in these crimes,” Studebaker said.

On Monday, April 9, HPD served another search warrant in the 400 block of West Jennie Avenue at a location the suspect is known to frequent.

“During that search we seized a bicycle, auto parts, jewelry, tools, and boxes with distinctive writing that matched those seized from the storage unit in Umatilla, as well as the attic of the home on NW 12th St.,” said Studebaker.

Using its Facebook page, HPD asked the public to check if their storage units had been broken into.

“So far we’ve been able to identify six additional burglary victims,” Studebaker said. “We are still continuing to inventory and process the stolen property we seized, and we will be returning that to victims as they’re identified.”

If anyone has any information about these cases, or discovers their storage unit has been burglarized, or knows the whereabouts of Russell Scott Greene Jr., they are asked to call the Hermiston Police Department at 541-567-5519.

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