June 29, 2017
The University of Oregon Police Department is searching for a man accused of stealing a marked UOPD police car early Wednesday morning, after an officer left the vehicle running with the keys inside.
The car was found about one hour later, two miles away in a residential neighborhood in southwest Springfield.
A window was smashed, but the car otherwise was not damaged, police said.
The suspect, who was caught on video, is described as about 6 feet tall with shaggy dark hair and a slight build. He is seen on the video walking by the car before breaking the driver’s side window, getting in and driving away.
The officer who was driving the car had stopped at the UO telecommunications building on Walnut Street about 3:30 a.m., UOPD spokesman Kelly McIver said.
But the officer apparently made a mistake by leaving the keys inside, according to Police Chief Matt Carmichael.
“It’s standard practice for law enforcement vehicles to use power from a running car battery to keep in-car computer and recording systems booted up and ready for use,” Carmichael said. “However, a special keyless system allows for this, and keys are not to be left in unattended cars, and in this case they were.”
Police used in-car technology and help from the Springfield Police Department to find the car on South Third Street around 4:30 a.m.
McIver said no firearms were in the car when it was stolen, there was no access to the in-car computer or information systems, and the thief took nothing.
Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call UOPD at 541-346-2919 or the anonymous tip line at 541-346-2974.