‘Brazen’ thieves take $80K equipment from Gresham church


Theft happened October 26 on NE Kelley Avenue

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — About a year ago, Rise City Church bought the Skateworld that was next to Gresham High School to convert it into the new church location in the middle of the city.

“We’ve been renovating it and turning it into our future church building,” Pastor Jason Clarke told KOIN 6 News. There will be a “massive kids area,” a sanctuary, a coffee shop, and a “baseball training organization renting from us in the back.”

Over the past year, they’ve gutted Skateworld and put a new roof, HVAC and new walls on the 30,000-square foot building.

One of the church member’s father owns a construction company “that donated this equipment for us to use for a year.”

But that equipment was enticing to thieves. On October 26, a pair of men are seen in surveillance footage looking at the property and the construction equipment.

Police said the thieves waited for the work crew to leave.

Surveillance video from October 26, 2019 shows men stealing $80,000 in construction equipment from a Gresham church property. (Gresham PD)

“A short while later they come back with trucks and trailers, get in the vehicles, the construction vehicles, drive them straight on the trailers and out of the parking lot,” said Gresham Police Officer Ben Costigan.

Two large pieces were taken, a John Deere skid steer and a mini excavator, Costigan said.

“The value of those are right around $80,000 between the two of them,” he said.

Costigan described the theft as “pretty brazen” since it wasn’t dark and there were surveillance cameras that captured the theft. Each had a dark-colored pickup with a trailer.

“As you can see from the good photos we have, it’s going to be hard for them to not get caught, I think,” the officer said.

Police hope someone will recognize the men or their vehicles. If you know anything, contact Detective Carlson at 503.618.3207.

Pastor Jason Clarke of Rise City Church in Gresham, November 5, 2019 (KOIN)

Pastor Clarke just wants to be able to get the equipment back to the company that let them use it.

“We’re really bummed for them and their generosity and volunteering all their time,” Clarke said. “We’re actually really hoping to find this equipment so this company can get it back.”

As for the thieves, Clarke said there is forgiveness.

“We love them. God loves them and there’s forgiveness and hope for them,” he said. “We just want the equipment back.”

Clarke said they’ll keep moving forward. Rise City Church hopes to open their new space in March.

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