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Sharp eye leads to recovery of stolen snowmobiles, ATVs

Correction: See below.

A Medford detective with an eye for snowmobiles spotted one that was reported stolen over the weekend and followed it to recover six stolen snowmobiles and four all-terrain vehicles. Three men and a teenager were arrested in the case.

A break-in and the theft of four snowmobiles and four ATVs at Rotax Performance Machines on Crater Lake Highway was reported Monday. Two additional snowmobiles were reported stolen from the shop's yard Wednesday as more customers came to check on their machines at the business, which sells new and consignment equipment and provides service and storage, Medford police Lt. Tim Doney said.

Detectives from Medford police and the Jackson County Sheriff's Department were tracking down tips on the case in White City Wednesday afternoon. Medford detective Justin Ivens, an avid snowmobiler, saw a truck go by on Avenue G hauling what he recognized as one of the snow machines reported stolen.

Deputies stopped the truck, recovered the snowmobile and arrested the driver, Fernando Rafael Ayala-Montanez, 24, of the 3400 block of Sunny Way, White City, on theft charges.

Further investigation led to three more arrests and the recovery of the stolen items, which were scattered at homes of the suspects and their friends across Medford and White City, police said.

Michael Allen St. Arnold, 27, of the 2100 block of Highway 234, Eagle Point, and Vincent Avina Ayala Jr., 27, of the 3800 block of Avenue A, White City, were arrested at a home they were house-sitting in the 1500 block of Timothy Avenue, Medford. A 17-year-old boy from White City also was arrested at his home in the 3100 block of Avenue G.

All four suspects were charged with three counts each of aggravated theft and three counts of first-degree theft. The three adults were lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $45,000 bail each. The teen was lodged at the Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center.

St. Arnold and Ayala were arraigned Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court on an aggravated first-degree theft charge, two counts of first-degree theft and a charge of second-degree criminal mischief. Ayala-Montanez was arraigned on three counts of aggravated first-degree theft and charges of first-degree theft and second-degree criminal mischief.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.

Correction: The headline on this story has been changed to more accurately reflect the type of vehicles recovered.