Since the beginning of the year, several businesses have suffered break-ins, with expensive losses.

HOLLY M. GILL - When his expensive automotive diagnostic tool was stolen in a break-in either late Jan. 27, or early Jan. 28, Mark Hodges, the owner of Mark's Auto Repair, was forced to immediately purchase another. Hodges lost an estimated $17,000 worth of vehicles and tools, but two ATVs were located and returned.
After a break-in and burglary late last month — one of several costly crimes affecting local businesses since the beginning of the year — one business owner is offering a reward for the return of his stolen property.

Mark Hodges, the owner of Mark's Auto Repair, is offering $500 "for information leading to us getting our stuff back," he said Monday.

A thief or thieves broke into Hodge's business at 880 South Adams Drive, on Jan. 28, by breaking out a garage door window and crawling through into his shop. The thief was cut in the process, leaving blood at the scene.

The burglar or burglars also used spray paint on an exterior light, and the garage windows, and smashed interior fluorescent tube lights in an apparent attempt to avoid being seen by motorists on South Fifth Street.

"It was quite a mess," said Hodges, noting that it occurred sometime between 7 p.m. Jan. 27, when an employee who was working late on an ATV left, and 7 a.m. Jan. 28, when the employee opened the shop and discovered the burglary, which included that ATV.

"He had just gotten the quad working the previous night and planned to test it the next day," said Hodges. "The next morning, when he came in, it was gone."

The value of tools and vehicles stolen was estimated at $17,000, which included a red 2002 Honda quad, white 2006 Polaris quad, green 2000 Kawasaki 250 motorcycle, a bright green 2003 Kawasaki KLX motorcycle, and a SOLUS Edge diagnostic scanner, which cost $5,000 to replace.

"We had to go buy one right away," Hodges said. "We couldn't do anything without it."

The thief or thieves attempted to steal two cars, knocking out the ignition switches, but fortunately for the business, neither of the vehicles was in running condition.

The two ATVs were stashed in an unused barn, where they were discovered when someone happened upon them and reported the discovery to police, who returned them to Hodges.

According to Madras Police Chief Tanner Stanfill, there have been several other burglaries at local businesses this year, beginning Jan. 1, with a break-in at Reynoso's Jewelry, which was broken into a second time on Jan. 18. The burglar broke the business' front window to gain access to the Southwest Fifth Street business.

More than $20,000 worth of jewelry was stolen in the two burglaries, but "little to none" has been recovered, Stanfill said.

In that case, which Stanfill does not believe to be related to the Mark's Auto Repair case, the police department has a suspect in custody.

"Through an investigation, we made an arrest on Victor Hernandez-Valle," said Stanfill.

Hernandez-Valle, 19, who was arrested Jan. 18, was charged with two counts of second-degree burglary, first-degree aggravated theft, first-degree theft, two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, two counts of second-degree criminal trespass, possession of burglary tools, and tampering with evidence. He is currently lodged in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility, with security set at $30,000.

The 77's Garage, on Southwest Culver Highway, reported an attempted break-in in mid-January, and Central Oregon Auto, on Southwest Third Street, had tools stolen Jan. 6 and 17, from vehicles owned by the business.

"Anybody with information in regard to these crimes is encouraged to contact Detective Dan Farrester at 541-475-2424," said Stanfill, adding that the burglaries all remain under investigation.

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