WEST LINN, Ore. (KOIN) — Since the weather was so nice on Sunday, a West Linn family decided to enjoy some time on their boat on the Willamette River near the Cedaroak boat ramp.
But while they were playing, thieves were working.
Two thieves entered the home on Nixon Avenue sometime before 5:30 p.m. through an unlocked back door and, in minutes, took a number of items, including a safe with cash and some jewelry. They also loaded the family’s car with the stolen items and then stole the homeowner’s car, said Officer Jeff Halverson with the West Linn Police Department.
“It was pretty quick. They were pretty well in and out. There wasn’t a whole lot of time that the family was gone,” Halverson told KOIN 6 News. “The vehicle was taken, there was a safe removed from the house, some smaller items, jewelry, things like that were taken.”
A bicycle was taken, too.
Halverson said investigators think the thieves were watching the house and kept track of the family coming and going, waiting for a time when the house was empty.
But it wasn’t long before one of the suspects was arrested, based in part on tips from the public.
“They believe there were some people in the area that were watching the house. There was a report of a suspicious van earlier in the day that matches the description of one of the suspects in this vehicle was later arrested in.”
That man, Vitaliy A. Lobasyuk, is a previously convicted felon who was arrested in a traffic stop in the van police were tipped off to earlier.
“Inside the vehicle there was a firearm involved, there was also some body armor,” Halverson said. Since Lobasyuk “is a known felon, he’s not allowed to have any of that in the first place.”
There were no issues during the arrest, but investigators don’t know what his intentions were with the gun and the body armor.
“Maybe he’ll offer that up, but at this time we don’t know,” he said.
Investigators are still looking for the second suspect. But the family’s car and most of the stolen items were recovered in Woodburn, which is where Lobasyuk lived.
“It looks like they went in there and used the victim’s vehicle as kind of their shopping cart,” Halverson said. “They loaded it up and drove from the scene in that vehicle. So, they stole the car and anything they could get away with, including that safe.”
Almost everything taken from the home was recovered — except for the cash and the bike. “There’s still a very large amount of cash that’s still missing,” Halverson said
But he added police are glad the gun and the body armor are off the street.
“Obviously this is a person that’s going to go into people’s homes and commit crimes, and the last thing we want is a gun and body armor to be out on the streets,” he told KOIN 6 News. “Number one, we’re glad no one got hurt and number two, we’re glad we were able to take those off the street.”
The investigation is ongoing and anyone who may have seen that white van in the West Linn area on Sunday is asked to contact police.
Lobasyuk, 32, was arrested for 1st-degree burglary, being a felon in possession of a firearm, identity theft and 1st-degree theft.
In his first court appearance Monday, the prosecutor said Lobasyuk had done some contracting work for the victims. Bail was set at $40,000 and his next court appearance is scheduled for April 29.