Published: Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 10:52 AM Updated: Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 9:57 PM
You couldn't miss the large Portland police presence at the Fred Meyer off Southeast Johnson Creek Boulevard on Wednesday morning.
Mounted patrol officers were out front. canine patrol were teaming around and about 60 other uniformed officers from assistant chiefs and commanders to patrol officers and traffic cops were inside.
It was the annual "Shop With a Cop" back-to-school event, with officers helping about 160 children pick out clothing and school supplies for the approaching school year.
But that didn't stop two men from going aisle to aisle, picking out a few items of their own.
While officers were helping out the kids, store security alerted the police they had their eyes on two young men packing their own backpacks with merchandise.
"Two guys came in and were picking through goods, cutting tags off and loading up their backpacks with blenders, shoes, clothes and tools," said Sgt. Pete Simpson, police spokesman.
A couple of Portland officers assisted security in making an arrest, as a clown making balloons continued to entertain the children gathered for the special shopping event.
The two young men stopped, Shane Alexander, 20, of Hillsboro, and Jason Vantress, 30, of Southeast Portland, were arrested and walked back to the store's security office in handcuffs.
"Initially, they said they were freaked out by all the cops there," Simpson said. "But then, they thought it would be a good time to steal, that police would be distracted."
Now officers and store security are scratching their heads.
"Common sense didn't play into their decision-making today," Simpson said. "As is so often the occasion with crooks, they think they're smarter than the average bear, and they're not."
Officers returned to assisting the children and helping them get ready for school. "We're helping kids and arresting bad guys at the same time," Simpson said.
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