If there’s one thing Jason and Sheeana Schacher can’t stand, it’s a thief.
So when Jason spotted a man jogging across the Home Depot parking lot Friday evening with a smile on his face and a Milwaukie tool kit under his arm, and then bundling into a getaway mini van that peeled off before the door even closed, the Schachers naturally gave chase.
The mini van had no suspicions they were being followed until Jason passed a few cars to keep up with them.
Heading east on West Sixth Street, the getaway mini van, a tan/gold Ford Winstar with a temporary license in its rear window, “flew through the Kmart parking lot, tires squealing, going sideways,” Jason recounted Monday.
“They didn’t know how to drive, so they couldn’t get away, it was amazing,” he said.
“We drive a black Suburban, so do we look like a cop? Yes we do,” Jason said.
Sheena, who’d told Jason to go ahead and chase them, had called police to report they were following a suspected thief, giving updates on their direction.
Jason stuck with the driver. “They’re probably thinking Terminator, this guy just won’t quit.”
After heading south on Snipes, they headed east on West 10th Street. Then the mini van headed south up Cherry Heights Road.
Whenever a few cars got between them, the mini van would slow down. Jason waited for straightaways to pass some cars to get back on their tail.
“I think they almost lost control because there was skid marks like 200 feet,” he said.
Then, as luck would have it, the mini van turned down Sandlin Road. “Guess what? It’s a dead end road, they’re not going anywhere, so I knew we got them.”
Jason just stopped his vehicle at the beginning of Sandlin Road. He saw the thief stick his hand out the window and he thought “that’s weird.”
Suddenly, a white pickup pulled up beside Jason and asked why he was driving “like a jacka--,” and he explained, “that guy stole stuff and I’m not letting him go.” The guy just said, “Ok.”
Then, the driver of the mini van apparently kicked the thief out of the vehicle. He exited holding a pair of Nike shoes and the tool set, which Jason said was probably worth a few hundred dollars. “He’s just walking with his head hanging in shame.”
Sheeana was in back with their oldest son – who had encouraged his dad during the pursuit, saying, “Go Dad, Go!” — so the front passenger seat was empty. The window was down, and the man walked up, said “This isn’t mine,” and put the tool kit on the seat. He said the shoes were his.
“So just like an old man, I just gave him a tongue lashing. I wanted the cops to be there to do something at that point. I didn’t want to get out because who knows what could happen.”
Police were dispatched to the call a minute after it came in just after 8 p.m.
But the officer noted in the police log that he was told the Schachers were no longer following the suspect vehicle at 10th and Cherry Heights. He still went up Cherry Heights looking for the vehicle, but found nothing. He later told the Schachers that he must’ve just missed them.
Jason told the suspect he didn’t have very good friends if they ditched him like that. “They kicked you out of the van and hung you out to dry, you’ve got some good friends there buddy.”
He said the man’s eyes were glassy and he couldn’t tell if he’d been crying or was high.
He said the suspect was a white man in his 20s or 30s, about six feet tall, fairly thin, maybe 170 pounds. He was wearing basketball shorts and a sleeveless red shirt. “He looked the part. He had that look to him. Head was pretty well shaved,” Jason said.
“He just kind of stood there and looked at me. He could’ve run, I wasn’t going to chase him across a field. He just kind of hung his head in shame. And said I’m sorry. I’m assuming his friends came back and picked him up.”
Jason said the getaway van was overheating and there was water all over the road. “Oh man, they were running hard, it was fun.”
Jason drove away with the thief still standing there. Sheeana took a picture of the tool kit sitting in their front seat. She didn’t take a picture of the thief, Jason said, since she didn’t think of it in the moment.
The Schachers took the purloined package back to Home Depot and when they took it to the service desk, they thought they were bringing it in for an exchange.
When they explained what happened, “they couldn’t stop laughing. They were dying,” Jason said.
Jason, 43, owns Bulldog Welding. He grew up in The Dalles and graduated from Wahtonka High School.
Asked how fast he was going during the pursuit, he said he never checked, since he was concentrating on driving safely. “We were clipping along ok.”
He called the experience “the highlight of my week, I had a great time.”
Sheeana said it was pretty thrilling. “We really don’t like thieves, it really frustrates us when we hear about that situation. So when we were able to recover it, that’s pretty satisfying.”
Jason said the reaction from friends has been “You are so dumb, you trying to get shot?”
Even so, his only regret was that police weren’t able to nab the thief.