Online 'friend' request leads to arrest in Medford robbery

Medford police arrested a man suspected of robbing a Medford salon on Saturday after his bizarre behavior left a trail of online clues linking him back to the crime.

Devin Patrick Thomas, 29, of the 1200 block of Progress Drive, Medford, was arrested Sunday after he reportedly stole signs from a hawker waving advertising at passing traffic at the corner of Biddle and McAndrews roads.

The theft of the signs was reported at 1:34 p.m. and the responding officer found an agitated Thomas nearby, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.

Thomas appeared to be under the influence of stimulants, possibly the designer drug known as bath salts, police said.

The officer ordered Thomas to kneel, which he did, but when she moved in to handcuff him, he fought her off and ran, Budreau said. The officer tried to subdue him with a stun gun, but he fled, with the officer in pursuit.

A woman driving by saw the chase and cut off the suspect in her vehicle. Thomas pried at the vehicle's closed window, trying to clamber in, Budreau said.

By then, three Medford police officers and two Rogue Valley Mall security officers had arrived to wrangle Thomas into custody, although he continued to fight.

Thomas was checked at a local hospital, then booked into Jackson County Jail on charges of third-degree theft, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, interfering with police, harassment and criminal mischief.

The owner of Salon Chic, 628 N. Riverside Ave, Medford, saw his booking photo on a website that displays mugshots and recognized him as the man who had robbed her business, police said.

She had no doubt he was the man because she also had received a Facebook friend request from him in which he explained that he had robbed her salon the day before and he was sorry, police recounted. Thomas said he had found her on Facebook after seeing her name in an ad for Salon Chic, police said.

"He was remorseful, but acted really bizarrely," Budreau said.

Detectives interviewed Thomas in jail, then added two charges of second-degree robbery for the salon incident.

At about 4:10 p.m. Friday, a robber entered the salon on Riverside Avenue. He claimed to have a gun and took money from the cash register and from the purse of a woman who was the only customer there at the time. He was charged with two counts of robbery because the salon and the customer were separate victims, police explained.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 541-776-4485, or email aburke@mailtribune.com.


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