Van heist opens eyes in windsurfing world

Sailworks owner Bruce Peterson looks for answers in a peculiar crime

Most people would like to assume that their vehicles are safe when they are at work — especially when the car is parked right outside.

But, as Sailworks owner Bruce Peterson found out last Friday, that assumption is no longer a safe one to make.

Some time on the afternoon of March 14, while he and his staff worked inside their warehouse off Interstate 84 in Hood River, a thief raided the parking lot and made off with Peterson’s van.

To add insult to injury, approximately $15,000 worth of windsurfing gear was inside the van, and as of March 21, none of it had been recovered.

However, the van was discovered in Southeast Portland on Wednesday, and returned to a concerned — and very angry — Peterson.

“The van is fine, but it just makes me nauseous,” he said. “That was one of the most brazen acts I could have ever imagined. I mean, we can see the parking lot from our front windows.”

Peterson said that between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., someone stole his van without making a sound.

“I went to leave at 6 p.m. and it was gone,” he said. “I even considered that someone was playing a joke on me. But after looking around for a minute, it dawned on me that I had been ripped off.”

Hood River Police Sgt. Neil Holste responded to the call along with officer David Thompson, and told Peterson that, while these occurrences are rare in Hood River, there was a rash of similar crimes in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Peterson said he would like to think that the thief was just a transient who was passing through town and needed a car.

However, he has also considered the possibility that he was targeted for his gear. But that seems to be less likely.

“I have a lot of faith in the people of the local windsurfing community,” Peterson said. “I’ve heard of petty theft before, but a crime this big is pretty unique. In fact, I only know of two other times that it’s happened in the United States.”

Peterson said that in both instances, the equipment was eventually returned. He hopes that his sails, booms and boards will also return, and has confidence that whoever brings the equipment into the open will be caught.

“These aren’t just average sails and boards,” he said. “They are specialized and used primarily for racing. Anyone around here will recognize the stuff as being ours, and I doubt if anyone locally would have the courage to use it.”

Peterson has contacted everyone he knows in the Northwest, the East Coast, Texas, California and more. He has also contacted all the second-hand equipment stores in Portland and Hood River, and has developed a website to aid in the recovery of the stolen items.

“We’ll just see where it turns up, I guess,” he said. “Sooner or later, the person or people who are responsible will be found out. The windsurfing community is a pretty tight-knit group.”

If you have any information about the stolen windsurfing equipment or the van theft, please contact the Hood River Police at 386-3942. Peterson’s website is at:

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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