News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Community policing in action

A stolen purse may not constitute a major crime, but it’s a big deal to the person whose purse was stolen.

Patricia Bricker had that experience back in March — and she was very grateful for the actions of Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy Jerad Bearson in recovering her property.

“He’s an angel — well, in my book,” Bricker told The Nugget. “He went above and beyond what he had to do. He went out of his way to follow through.”

Bricker said she had parked her car in the parking lot of a store in Sisters and left her purse on the seat, taking her wallet out to go into the store.

While she was in the store, a man opened her car door and swiped the purse. Deputy Bearson told The Nugget that he responded to a report of an unlawful entry into a vehicle.

“Mrs. Bricker had left her purse on the front passenger seat,” he said.

The stolen purse contained some cash, personal items, and Bricker’s phone.

“One of the witnesses described a truck, and I knew exactly who it belonged to because he was a local transient,” Bearson said.

The witness indicated that the thief was the passenger in the truck.

Bricker’s daughter tracked the phone, which was ditched in the woods. The phone was recovered. Bearson went straight to the camp that he knew was associated with the suspect truck. He arrested one man for the theft.

The purse, which was an expensive one with sentimental value to Bricker, was not immediately recovered, but Bearson advised the man he did not arrest that if it turned up it would behoove him to turn it in. A couple of days later the man turned in the purse, saying he had found it in the woods. The cash was not recovered.

The quick and satisfactory resolution of the incident is a demonstration of the value of local knowledge that the Sisters deputies carry.

“I keep tabs on people and where their camps are,” Bearson said.

He noted that having a good rapport with the local forest-dwelling community is important. Many of them keep an eye out for people who are causing trouble or committing crimes, because they don’t want that to be associated with them.

“A lot of them don’t want that stereotype,” Bearson said. “My lead witness was another transient, and I have a good rapport with him.”

That kind of rapport can only be built with consistent presence.

“The West guys (deputies who rotate on patrol at the west end of Deschutes County) don’t really get to know the people in the community the way the Sisters guys do,” Bearson said.

Bearson said that the incident offers a few takeaways — the primary one being to keep vehicles locked and not to leave valuables in a vulnerable position.

“Criminals take the path of least resistance,” he said. “I don’t think he would have broken a window in the parking lot to do it.”

He also noted that giving a loved one the capability to track your phone helps to locate it if it is stolen.

Lt. Chad Davis, who leads the Sisters contingent of DCSO deputies, said, “Even in Sisters crime and thefts do occur. DCSO is encouraging the public to lock their vehicles when frequenting a business or if leaving their vehicle for any amount of time. Keep valuables out of view or secured in your trunk if available. Also, consider keeping your valuables with you instead of leaving them unattended in vehicles.

“If you witness a crime, be a good witness. Obtain a good description of the suspect(s), clothing description, approximate age, race, distinguishing features, vehicle description, license plate, and their direction of travel. Consider taking a photo/video of the suspect and/or their vehicle if it is safe to do so and then call 911 or the Deschutes County 911 non-emergency number at 541-693-6911.”

Citizens can learn more about the operations of DCSO at a community academy set for May 15-16 in Sisters (Click here to see related story).

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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