Man reunited with stolen truck filled with charitable gifts
A Canby man was reunited in Gresham on Wednesday morning with a beloved pickup full of charitable gifts that was stolen from the McMenamins Edgefield parking lot last weekend.
The larger, more expensive items — including a new flat-screen TV and a Traeger grill — were gone, but 100 embroidered backpacks and winter beanies intended as raffle prizes remained. And the red Ford F250 pickup was relatively undamaged when Scott Brawner's son picked it up early Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Graphic Packaging International on Northeast Sandy Boulevard.
"The guy that stole it parked it there, asked a neighboring business if he could park it there, and left," Brawner said. "The company didn't know the truck had been stolen."
An employee, however, saw the 1997 truck on an online used car parts forum, detected foul play, and eventually got through to Brawner, who announced a $2,500 reward for the truck's return earlier this week.
"He didn't even know there was a reward for it," Brawner said, noting his employer, Coffman Excavation in Oregon City, offered to pay the reward. "It's a pretty spectacular outcome for us."
After a Coffman-sponsored office party at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale on Friday, Nov. 8, Brawner purposely parked his truck overnight in a lighted place he thought would deter thieves.
"I knew I parked in the perfect spot where nobody could get in the back," he told The Outlook on Monday, Nov. 11. "I backed it up against a tree."
The truck — with a canopy covering the bed — was packed with raffle items from the party as well as donations collected for Oregon City nonprofit group Bloomin' Boutique. When Brawner, who spent the night at the Edgefield resort's hotel, went out the next morning, his F250 — which he wedged in between two other pickups — was gone.
"I couldn't believe it wasn't there," Brawner told KOIN-6 News. "I was just sick to my stomach."
Among the items and prizes stolen along with the truck were 100 embroidered backpacks that cost the company $19,000, a flat-screen TV, a Traeger grill and fuel pellets and 200 beanie hats. There also were drums filled with socks to be donated to Bloomin' Boutique, which provides clothing, shows, bedding and other personal care items to under-privileged children.
The backpacks and hats were recovered with the truck on Wednesday morning.
Surveillance camera footage showed a white compact sedan pull behind Brawner's truck at 3:58 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9. The thief or thieves apparently entered the truck using specialized tools, "hot-wiring" the ignition and took off in the truck almost immediately.
"They stole it in about two minutes, which to me is shocking," Brawner said. "These are professional car thieves."
Because no other vehicles were reported tampered with or stolen that night or morning, Brawner speculates the thieves were somehow tipped off to the merchandise-filled truck.
"No one was casing the parking lots or driving around," the former firefighter noted. "They just pulled (up), jumped into mine and stole it."
Despite damage to the ignition and steering column, Brawner said his son was able to drive it to Gresham Ford for repairs.
Brawner was perplexed, however, by the apparent lack of investigation by law enforcement into the stolen items and lack of response from McMenamins staff and management.
"I thought maybe it would be investigated as a crime," he said. "If (the thief) was trying to sell car parts on a car parts forum, he's obviously done this before. And why isn't McMenamins doing a better job (keeping guests' vehicles safe)? None of it makes sense to me."
No one from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department, Gresham police or McMenamins Edgefield had responded to queries on the incident by Outlook press time.
Brawner credits area media outlets — including KGON radio's Terry Boyd's World — with getting word out on his stolen vehicle.
"The only way it could be better is if they dropped (the truck) off and left everything the way it was. This was the next best thing."
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