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MailTribune.com
  • Neighbors help nab burglary suspect

    Police say the culprit, 19, was on heroin, which is a growing crime factor in the region
  • Neighbors teamed up to nab a burglary suspect Thursday morning after he broke into a pickup, then ran and hid in a nearby garage.
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  • Neighbors teamed up to nab a burglary suspect Thursday morning after he broke into a pickup, then ran and hid in a nearby garage.
    Police believe Anthony Paul Mathis, 19, was under the influence of heroin when he allegedly smashed a truck window to steal a backpack before running about a block and hiding in an east Medford garage, said Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.
    A Lenora Drive resident who didn't want be named heard glass breaking at about 7:20 a.m. and then spotted a man stealing his son's backpack out of his truck parked in the driveway.
    "I kind of saw a shadow by my truck and heard the glass break at the same time. I went outside and there he was," said the 35-year-old Lenora Drive resident, who lives in the 1600 block. "I chased after him, but I had knee surgery ... both my knees are actually shot. He turned the corner and that's where I lost him."
    In the middle of drinking his morning coffee, Berkeley Way homeowner Dustin Riggs, 38, saw the commotion and came out to talk to the man who was giving chase.
    "The guy was chasing him out front. I went out and asked him what was going on and he said a guy in a white hat broke into his truck," Riggs said. "Well, I went out to get in my car and go to work and I noticed this white hat in my garage."
    Riggs said he noticed the door to a side room in his garage was closed, so he went in and found Mathis sitting on the floor crying. "I opened up the door and I could hear him in there," Riggs said. "I told him to stay put or I would tackle him if he tried to run."
    Riggs called the police and alerted his neighbor, he said.
    "He was under the influence of heroin. He threw up all over himself and it was quite disgusting," said the Lenora Drive resident. The man said his son's backpack had school books and supplies and an iPod inside. He expects the smashed truck window will cost between $150 and $350 to replace.
    "It's nice to know I have good neighbors," he said, noting he had just moved to the neighborhood from California on Feb. 1.
    Mathis was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on charges of second-degree burglary, second- and third-degree theft, first-degree trespassing, third-degree criminal mischief and four counts of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, jail records show. His bail was set at $31,000.
    Police believe Mathis is responsible for three additional vehicle break-ins in the neighborhood, stealing electronics and tools, Budreau said.
    "The drug problem is getting out of hand here, this kid went to school with my daughter," Riggs said
    Budreau said heroin is becoming an increasingly prevalent drug in Medford.
    "Heroin is one of those drugs that is very physically addicting, to the point where if you don't get it on a daily basis you become very ill ... you become so dependent on it that you'll do pretty much anything for it," Budreau said. "We come across heroin and meth on a nightly basis now. Heroin is definitely rivaling meth use, it's not quite there but it's close."
    "Both drugs are such a huge contributor to our rising crime rate."
    Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.
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