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PORTLAND -- A Portland Bureau of Transportation employee was arrested Wednesday for allegedly taking part in an auto theft scheme.

Barbara Lorraine Peterson, 53, who worked in the abandoned auto section of PBOT, is accused of tipping off a tow truck driver to reports of abandoned vehicles in the metro area.

The driver would then steal the cars and take them to a car-crushing facility, where they were crushed and sold as scrap metal, said Sgt. Pete Simpson of the Portland Police Bureau.

Dozen of officers swarmed the facility, West Coast Car Crushing, earlier this month as part of the ongoing auto theft investigation.

Background: Auto theft investigation leads to N Portland business

Detectives then opened a secondary investigation that pointed to Peterson, Simpson said. Investigators said Peterson was taking cash payments for providing the abandoned vehicle reports.

Based on the investigation, detectives believe that Peterson was acting alone and without the knowledge of the City of Portland or any other city employees, Simpson said.

Peterson was jailed on seven counts of official misconduct, four counts of conspiracy to commit unlawful use of a motor vehicle and three counts of unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

Anyone with information about the investigation was asked to contact Detective Jeff Sharp at 503-823-9773 or Detective Angela Hollan at 503 823-3761.

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