The strange, bittersweet saga of Scott Brawner and his truckful of gifts and donated goods stolen from the McMenamins Edgefield parking lot in November took yet another twist in December. Some of the goods — including a new Traeger grill — were returned by a man who apparently bought them from the original thief.
A man heard through news reports about the red Ford pickup stolen after Brawner and his co-workers packed it with employee gifts and charitable donations following a Nov. 8 employee party at Edgefield in Troutdale. Recognizing some of the stolen items as those he had in his U-Haul Storage unit on Hogan Avenue in Gresham, the man called Brawner at his Coffman Excavation office in Oregon City and invited him to pick them up.
"He felt guilty he had stolen merchandise we had brought for charities and wanted to give them back," Brawner said.
The stranger's call promised to mitigate losses from when Brawner was reunited with his pickup on Nov. 13. An employee of a business on Northeast Sandy Boulevard suspected something was off about the Ford F250 a stranger had left parked outside.
"The company didn't know the truck had been stolen," Brawner said at the time.
When Brawner retrieved the truck, all the items he'd packed into it that night at Edgefield — save some hats and backpacks embroidered with the Coffman Excavation logo — were gone.
Without any arrests or leads in the case, Brawner, a Canby resident, was game to meet the stranger and see what he could get back.
"On the phone, he was remorseful and intimidated by the fact that I was gonna meet him," Brawner said of the man. "He wanted to give it back and said it was 'really bad karma' (to be associated with stolen charitable gifts)."
Brawner, who tried unsuccessfully to get a police escort to the storage facility, said he carried a concealed weapon that he ultimately didn't need.
"I didn't know what I'd be up against," Brawner explained. "I wasn't afraid or intimidated. He was cordial and was there with his girlfriend ... He really felt like he was trying to do the right thing."
Brawner, who has worked with the Multnomah County Sheriff's and District Attorney's offices and Gresham Police Department, is not currently pursuing charges against the man who turned over the property. The Outlook is withholding possible suspects' names pending further police investigation.
Brawner's haul included the Traeger grill intended as an employee raffle item at Coffman Excavation, six of the about 200 embroidered backpacks stolen as well as some clothes Coffman employees intended as gifts to Bloomin' Boutique, an Oregon City charitable organization.
A big-screen TV the storage unit renter presented to Brawner turned out to be a different one than what disappeared with his truck in November, and none of Brawner's personal items from the truck were retrieved.
"I had a knife given to me as a (Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue) firefighter, all the small stuff, the donations by employees, the donations barrels, eight lanterns and the centerpieces from the holiday dinner (at Edgefield), and I'm not sure how many backpacks," Brawner said of stolen items missing in action.
Still, he added, "I don't think things could've ended up better" under the circumstances, noting the Traeger grill was still unopened in its box. Also, several local organizations came through with nearly $2,000 in donations to Bloomin' Boutique since the truck was stolen.
"Overall the charity got some really good notoriety," Brawner said. "People stepped up and did the right things. I got my truck back with (only) minor damage. Other than that, it was a pretty good outcome."
Brawner plans to continue working with law enforcement agencies until the original thief or thieves are brought to justice in what he thinks is part of a larger property crime issue.
"I believe what happened with my truck is just scratching the surface of what's happening in East Multnomah County," he said.
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