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Man allegedly stole Medford SWAT bag with ammo

A Medford man accused of burglarizing a police officer's garage allegedly stole a SWAT bag with ammunition, clips, a knife and flash diversionary devices.

Details about what was in the bag were revealed Wednesday during a Jackson County Circuit Court hearing for Duke Jacob Ham, 27, who faces charges of first-degree aggravated theft, second-degree burglary, first-degree theft and unlawful possession of a destructive device.

Ham was arrested after allegedly breaking into a detached garage April 7 where Medford police Cpl. Tom Venables had kept the bag. Three other men face charges for allegedly helping Ham sell the stolen property. The SWAT gear was valued at more than $10,000.

Police have recovered all the equipment except the knife and a magazine to a handgun, Medford police Sgt. Brent Mak said Wednesday.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz said no guns were in the SWAT bag. He declined to specify what type of gun or guns the ammunition was for because the case is pending.

Sometimes referred to as flash bang devices, flash diversionary devices emit a loud bang and flash of light to disorient suspects.

Meant to be nonlethal, the devices can cause injuries, including severe burns, hearing damage and concussions if they go off too close to people. If a flash diversionary device goes off in a person's hand, it can cause enough damage to require amputation, according to the public interest journalism organization ProPublica.

Ham was in court Wednesday for 10 criminal cases that also allege drug possession, theft of a Corvette and identity theft.

Prosecutors want Ham to be sent to prison for 18 months, but his defense attorney has asked that Ham be allowed to enter drug treatment court.

Markiewicz argued Ham is not an appropriate candidate for drug court given his alleged theft of the SWAT bag and its contents.

In the case of the Corvette, Markiewicz said Ham and a prostitute allegedly drugged a man, stole his car and car keys and drove to the man's home. The man's wife came home early and allegedly chased them away.

If she had not done so, Ham could be facing burglary charges for breaking into the home, Markiewicz said.

"He's not an appropriate candidate for drug court," Markiewicz said, adding he believes Ham's behavior is too dangerous.

Defense attorney Laurance Parker said Ham had no criminal history until he got involved with drugs, but is now exhibiting escalating behavior.

"He's a poster child for drug court," Parker said.

Parker said drug treatment court could be more onerous than 18 months in prison. If Ham failed the requirements of drug treatment court, he could then be sentenced to prison — and possibly for a longer time because prosecutors could seek back-to-back prison sentences rather than letting Ham serve multiple sentences at the same time, Parker said.

"He's worth a chance," Parker said.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Patricia Crain said she needed to have more information about Ham before she could decide whether to sentence him to prison or allow him into drug treatment court.

His cases have been set forward to May 18 to allow Crain time to receive and review information about him.

Ham remains lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $120,000 bail.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Duke Ham