Medford police nab suspected car thief

An orange Honda Element stolen in Grants Pass Tuesday led to the arrest of one man and the recovery of three stolen vehicles in Medford Wednesday afternoon, police said.

An officer spotted the distinctively bright car driving on South Columbus Avenue and, remembering that a car like that was listed as stolen, followed it to make a traffic stop, Medford police Detective Sgt. Mike Budreau said. He reported his plans and called for backup.

The vehicle pulled into the parking lot at Black Bird Shopping Center and the driver jumped out and ran, Budreau said. A passenger remained in the vehicle and the officer stayed with the vehicle and transmitted a description of the fleeing driver over his radio to other officers headed that way.

Another officer also spotted the man running. Police surrounding the area caught the man in an alley about four blocks away within minutes, Budreau said.

Joshua Kenneth Devore, 31, was arrested on charges related to car theft and parole violation, Budreau said. The chase left Devore, whose mouth was wired shut from a previous injury, struggling to breathe, so he was taken to a hospital for evaluation before being booked into jail.

Investigators linked Devore to two additional vehicle thefts reported in Medford Wednesday morning.

A Buick sedan that was warming up in the 900 block of South Holly Street was driven off at about 5:30 a.m. At about 5:50 a.m., a man who had started his Jeep Cherokee in front of his home in the 1000 block of South Peach Street returned from going inside to grab his coffee to find his vehicle missing.

Detectives suspect that Devore took the Buick, but ditched it in an alley off Peach Street when he saw the Jeep and snatched it instead. Both those vehicles were found undamaged. The Jeep was parked in an alley near Dakota Avenue and Benson Street.

Budreau said he didn't know whether Devore had an organized plan or reason for stealing cars or if he just took them when the opportunity presented itself.

Devore was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on three counts of unauthorized use of a vehicle and charges of attempting to elude police on foot, driving with a suspended license and a warrant from outside the county. He was held without bail.

The passenger was cited and released, but the name and charges weren't provided by police Wednesday.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail

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