Police have rounded up a quartet of men who allegedly broke into several houses and vehicles between February and May in east Medford and made off with guns, jewelry, coins and a car.
Clayton James Lappat, 22, of the 2700 block of Hawaiian Avenue; Hayden Andrew Wray, 22, of the 300 block of Keene Way Drive; Broc Alan Atkinson, 22, no address given; and Cameron Jordan Gentry, 21 of the 1200 block of Corona Avenue, were arrested on burglary, theft and other charges.
Lappat, Atkinson and Gentry were in the Jackson County Jail Friday afternoon on $25,000 bail. Wray was booked into jail, but is no longer lodged.
"It's kind of a relief," said Steve Johnson, former Mail Tribune photo editor and resident of one of the houses broken into. "There's always the fear they may come back or something. It offers peace of mind they got these guys."
Medford police and the Jackson County Sheriff's Department have been investigating a rash of break-ins on Medford's east side since April 1.
Investigators called the cases chilling, as people were in the homes that were burglarized and some even confronted the intruders, chasing them off.
"They are breaking into homes where people are inside sleeping. They get confronted twice, you'd think that'd be enough for them to stop," Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said. "But they continued."
The suspects allegedly traded the pilfered goods for heroin, pills and methamphetamine.
"(Those) seem to be the three drugs involved with this group," Budreau said. "It really makes them desperate."
Lappat was linked to nine incidents, pairing up with one of the other three suspects each time, according to police.
The first break-in occurred Feb. 15. Lappat and Atkinson allegedly broke into a home in the 1500 block of Ridge Way via a window and made off with more than $1,000 in coins, jewelry and computer equipment.
On March 4, Lappat and Gentry allegedly broke into a home in the 2900 block of Shasta Drive during the day and swiped $3,500 worth of jewelry, police said. Three days later at another house in the same block, they forced open the front door and made off with $1,500 in jewelry and some medication, police said.
Police also linked Lappat and Atkinson to a March 26 burglary at a home in the 600 block of Oregon Street, Jacksonville, where $1,000 worth of jewelry was taken.
The criminal activity peaked with a spree the night of March 31. Lappat and Wray allegedly stole a 2006 BMW from a garage in the first block of South Barneburg Road in Medford. They crashed the vehicle near the intersection of Sun Ridge Estates and Hillcrest Road. Authorities believe they ran into the neighborhood to find another get-away car.
"Basically, the reason they targeted that area is that's where their stolen vehicle crashed," Budreau said.
Police said Lappat and Wray broke into homes in the 6000 and 6300 blocks of Hillcrest Road. The homeowners, one of whom was Johnson, chased them off during both attempts.
"It was definitely startling," Johnson said, adding he locks up and primes the alarm system much more consistently since the incident.
Lappat also allegedly snatched a Sony Playstation 3, jewelry, cameras and a wallet from a home in the 4700 block of nearby Cloudcrest Drive. All stolen property from that burglary totaled about $1,000.
Police said Lappat and Atkinson also targeted firearms left inside cars, allegedly stealing a handgun from a vehicle parked in the 2400 block of Herrington Way on April 25 and two shotguns from a vehicle parked in the 1700 block of Dragon Trail Place on May 6.
Police said they don't think much of the stolen property will be recovered, as it's already been traded.
"We think, unfortunately, it's going to be a lost cause," Budreau said.
Wray has received past convictions for second-degree theft and unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, court records show. Lappat, Gentry and Atkinson have additional open cases where they have pleaded not guilty to identity theft and drug charges.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at email@example.com.