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$20,000 worth of tools stolen from west Medford auto shop

Burglars broke into a Medford automotive shop earlier this week and made off with what police estimate is at least $20,000 worth of tools.

The theft occurred at Capsey Automotive, 2355 Stewart Ave., sometime between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. The business was locked, but the thieves reportedly broke out windows on a door and unlocked the door from the inside.

"I always thought my doors out there were pretty bulletproof," business owner Robert Capsey said. "It's bizarre. They had to know the system pretty well.

The thieves made off with a sizable collection of tools Capsey has been assembling for almost 40 years, including numerous Snap-on, Mac and Matco-brand tools. Despite the massive haul, they were apparently quite selective.

"They knew what they were after. They left all the inexpensive tools and went after the high-dollar tools," Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said. 

Collectors swords, chemicals such as brake cleaners and carburetor spray, and about $1,500 in cash also were stolen, Capsey said. Some laundry bags in the business also turned up missing, prompting Capsey to speculate the burglars used them to haul the tools away. He is insured, but is temporarily unable to do certain types of work, relying only on the basic tools the thieves left behind.

"I've got a really big mess in my shop," he said.

The Oregon State Police Forensics Lab is involved in the investigation. Detectives spent most of Wednesday at the shop analyzing the crime scene.

It's the fourth burglary in which high-end tools were taken since New Year's Day, police said. Two were reported Jan. 1, and one in early February, though police suspect the third incident also happened around New Year's Day and went unreported for a month because the business owners were out of town.

In that case, burglars stole $44,227 worth of property, which included Stihl power equipment, a .45-caliber pistol, a 70-inch TV and various pieces of scuba gear from ZZ Electric at 744 Grape St. Another theft happened next door at Real Performance Automotive, 750 Grape St., where suspects made off with about $10,000 worth of Snap-on tools.

The third case happened at a house in the 1500 block North Phoenix Road, where thieves made off with $25,000 worth of property, including heavy-duty diagnostic scanning devices, drivers, ratchets, drills, wrench sets and LED flashlights.

Anyone with information about the cases is asked to call Medford police at 541-770-4784.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.