An Aloha man faces theft and reckless-driving charges after attempting to evade law enforcement in a stolen backhoe, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.
On Sunday, Nov. 21, an Oregon State Police trooper reported spotting someone driving a backhoe around I-205 and Highway 213 in Clackamas County, officials said. The driver was identified as 39-year-old Mitchell Johnston. When the trooper tried to stop Johnston, he drove the wrong way on the on-ramp from Highway 213. By the time the trooper looped back around, Johnston and the backhoe had disappeared, according to CCSO.
Around 12:40 a.m., a resident reported seeing the backhoe near Holly Lane and Redland Road and a CCSO deputy spotted the backhoe shortly after 1 a.m., driving on Fischers Mill Road, straddling the double yellow line and driving on the wrong side of the road between 10 and 20 mph, deputies said.
The deputy tried to stop Johnston once again, just west of Hattan Road and called other deputies for backup, according to CCSO.
When deputies made the stop, Johnston initially told them that he was "lost," but later admitted that he stole the backhoe from a lot in Beaverton on 141st Avenue and TV Highway owned by CivilWorks NW, a Vancouver-based construction company, officials said. OSP reported seeing Johnston after he had driven the backhoe 30 miles.
Deputies also discovered that Johnston's driver's license was revoked, according to CCSO.
The owners of the backhoe responded to the scene to retrieve it, officials said.
While construction equipment does get stolen , this particular incident was uncommon, said CCSO spokesperson Deputy John Wildhaber.
Johnston faces charges of reckless driving, aggravated theft, unauthorized use of a vehicle, driving with a revoked license and attempting to elude a police officer, according to CCSO. His bail was set at $50,000.
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