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ODOT Wire Theft Investigation Identifies Suspects; Police Seeking Three of the Suspects
Charles Mickley, Deputy District Attorney
Multnomah County District Attorney's Office
Office: (503) 988-5835
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247
Christine Miles
Oregon Department of Transportation
Office: (503) 731-8265

Photograph links valid for 30 days - Source: Multnomah County Sheriff's Office
A joint investigation by Oregon State Police (OSP), Portland Police Bureau (PPB), Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) identified suspects involved in wire theft incidents along area interstates and highways. Indictments were issued by a Multnomah County Grand Jury and two of the five suspects were arrested related to this investigation. Three others are wanted and the public is asked to help locate them.
The nearly two-month investigation followed reports from ODOT of numerous wire thefts along Interstate 84, Interstate 205, and Interstate 5 as well as bordering bike paths. Wires had been severed, pulled out of conduits and removed, and presumably sold for quick cash. The thefts reportedly cost ODOT at least $500,000 to replace stolen wires and damaged electrical systems.
"These arrests hopefully will get the message across to those currently involved, or considering involvement, with similar crimes that we will work with police to find and prosecute anyone who is stealing and damaging the public's property," said Karla Keller, ODOT Maintenance Manager. "These thieves were costing Oregonians thousands of dollars and disabled safety lighting and highway signs used to get important messages to highway travelers."
During the investigation OSP and PPB officers conducted surveillance along area highways and contacted businesses that purchase metals, including Sun Rising Metal Recycling at 7024 Northeast Glisan Street in Portland. A January 19, 2008 traffic stop involving a vehicle observed leaving Sun Rising Metal Recycling subsequently helped investigators identify key suspects allegedly involved in several crimes in Multnomah County between November 2007 and January 2008.
Evidence and tools believed associated with ODOT metal thefts were found in the vehicle driven by HANNAH ELIZABETH HOLMES, age 23, from southeast Portland. The follow-up investigation identified her boyfriend, ROBERT CHRISTOPHER BARNETT, age 35, as an additional suspect.
On February 22, 2008, HOLMES and BARNETT were taken into custody on numerous theft and criminal mischief related charges. BARNETT was also wanted at that time on a felony Washington County warrant.
Three other suspects were identified for their involvement in the ODOT wire theft investigations. Investigators also determined some of the suspects (HOLMES, BARNETT, and MILLER) allegedly were involved in wire theft from Portland Memorial Mausoleum in November 2007.
Three other suspects are currently wanted on felony warrants for theft and other charges issued after they were indicted by the Grand Jury. They are identified as:
NICHOLAS PRAZEAU, age 27, from Fairview (In addition to the warrant issued following indictment, PRAZEAU is also wanted on other outstanding Multnomah County warrants)
MEREDITH MANDY MEACHAM, age 28, from Portland
CHRISTOPHER MILLER, age 30, from Portland
Detectives anticipate additional arrests related to this investigation. Anyone with information regarding these investigations and the whereabouts of PRAZEAU, MEACHAM and MILLER is asked to call Oregon State Police Northern Command Center dispatch at 800-452-7888.