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Owner clings to top of work truck as thief races all over Portland Wednesday morning

Portland police say the driver even got onto freeways trying to shake the man off; the owner finally jumped to safety and the thief was arrested.
Credit: Portland Police Bureau

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland police said a man stole a pickup truck as the owner was standing on top to work on a billboard Wednesday morning, then proceeded to drive around recklessly as the owner held on for dear life. 

Police got a call about a stolen pickup when it was near Southwest Third Avenue and Southwest Oak Street around 5:45 a.m. 

More calls started coming in about a pickup being driven recklessly with someone holding onto ladders mounted on top. 

Officers tracked the pickup driving down Southwest Barbur Boulevard to Southwest Capitol Highway, and from there to Southwest Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. 

The owner was still on top, yelling for help, and officers reported seeing the suspect "jerking the wheel in an apparent attempt to shake the owner off," police said. 

"Due to the extremely dangerous situation, officers followed from a distance, trying to keep other traffic away from the truck, while developing a plan to get the truck safely stopped and rescue the victim from the moving vehicle," police said.

The suspect even got onto onto I-5 northbound, then continued to I-405 northbound and Highway 26 westbound, all with the man still on top of the truck. 

The suspect exited the highway onto Southwest Canyon Road, and the victim was finally able to jump into the bed of the truck, then eventually jump out onto a patch of grass in Beaverton. He was not seriously injured. 

Meanwhile, the suspect kept on driving and turned onto a dead-end road. That's where officers were able to confront him and take him into custody.

The suspect, 36-year-old Jacob Sopher, was booked at the Multnomah County jail on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree kidnapping, reckless driving, unauthorized use of a vehicle and reckless endangering. 

Police said they later learned the owner was working on a billboard, using his truck rack as a ladder, when he saw the suspect rummaging around in the truck. He tried to get down, but Sopher took off. 

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