Thief risks prison and health for $219

November 2, 2005

A chance encounter with a Hood River County Deputy recently led to the identification of a robbery suspect.

Robert Henry VanSickle, 36, was arraigned last week for allegedly stealing $219 from the Shell food mart in Cascade Locks. He was accused of demanding the money from a store clerk shortly before 11 p.m. on Oct. 14. According to reports, the employee was still in the process of handing VanSickle cash when he bolted from the premises.

Since the robber was not wearing a mask, his physical description was immediately radioed to all patrol deputies. The clerk did not know if the suspect was carrying a gun but believed it was possible since he had kept one hand in a coat pocket during their encounter.

Deputy Noel Princehouse, who was passing through Cascade Locks, remembered seeing VanSickle, who matched the robber’s description, walking down WaNaPa Street just minutes earlier. Princehouse knew the man had been released that same day from NORCOR, where he had served time for a drug conviction.

Princehouse relayed his suspicions to other law enforcement officials and a search was launched for VanSickle. However, he could not be located in any of the places where he usually hung out.

The suspect later told Sheriff Detective Gerry Tiffany that he had plowed though blackberry bushes after leaving the store to get downhill to the Union Pacific railroad tracks. He then used the tracks to escape unnoticed from town and caught a ride along Interstate 84 to Portland.

During his flight, Tiffany said VanSickle became covered with scratches from blackberry thorns. In addition, his feet required medical treatment because he was unable to change his wet socks for the next several days.

“He really went through a lot of pain and suffering to get a little bit of money,” said Tiffany.

Four days after the robbery, a family member allegedly convinced VanSickle to turn himself in. He now faces prison time for felony robbery and theft charges.

Tiffany said VanSickle reportedly confided in a relative that he planned to commit a crime so that he could return to jail. He had not been able to find lodging since leaving NORCOR and allegedly wanted to return to a place that provided a warm bed and hot food.

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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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