Alleged shotgun thief returns to scene of crime

Alleged shotgun thief returns to scene of crime

A man suspected of stealing two shotguns from Medford's Sportsman's Warehouse early Tuesday was arrested after he returned to the store on Wednesday and a sharp-eyed manager recognized him.

With information from store employees, Medford police arrested Trevor Gene Cheney, 20, of the 900 block of West 10th Street,Medford, on theft and burglary charges Wednesday, Medford police Lt.Bob Hansen said.

"The store employees were good eyes for us," he said. "We really appreciate that."

Investigators suspect Cheney went into the store at 1710 Delta Waters Road shortly before closing on Monday, and hid somewhere inside until employees left. Then he apparently grabbed two Beretta 12-gauge shotguns valued at a total of $3,000 and left, triggering an alarm at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. In addition to summoning police, the alarm roused Carol Heil, manager of the store's camping department, who spent hours waiting at the store in the early morning hours while police surrounded and searched the building.

After sacrificing her sleep to secure the store from the burglar, Heil joked that she had "a vested interest in finding him."

She studied surveillance photos closely, discussed the man's looks with neighbors and intensely watched people when she attended the Little Big Town concert at the Jackson County Fair. She didn't see anybody matching the burglar's description in the fair-going crowds.

Heil was sitting at her desk upstairs at Sportsman's Warehouse Wednesday afternoon when she saw the young man with blondish hair and a full mouth wandering through the tent displays. Certain she recognized him, she went over to chat.

"He was soft-spoken, but he didn't seem nervous," she said.

He wasn't in the market for new camping gear, he told her, but he was interested in fishing. She shared a story about the fat trout she had caught on her last trip to Diamond Lake and the man went to look at the fishing gear.

Heil quickly notified store security, who took up the watch and called police. As the man headed for the store's door, Heil intercepted him with more fishing stories, pointing out pictures on the bulletin board.

She and other employees watched as the man crossed the parking lot, picked up a black backpack like the one the burglar wore in surveillance footage, and pedaled off on his bike. Store security kept an eye on him and detectives found the man near Food 4 Less on Biddle Road, Hansen said.

Cheney tried to dodge investigators, but other officers in the area caught up with him after a short chase, Hansen said. After getting a warrant to search his apartment, police found the two guns reported stolen.

Cheney was arraigned in Jackson County Circuit Court Thursday on charges of first- and second-degree burglary and first-degree theft. He remained in jail Thursday on $10,000 bail.

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