Theft suspect recognized by residents, apprehended

Eugene police arrested a man late Thursday who they say has been knocking on students’ doors in a handful of Eugene neighborhoods.

The man, 28-year-old Jacob Steven Lucas, was wanted on four counts of theft, as well as other charges including methamphetamine possession, criminal trespassing and menacing with a knife.

The theft charges stem from local reports, describing a man believed to be Lucas, knocking on doors and asking residents if he can use the bathroom or a phone.

Police issued a press release yesterday that asked for the public’s assistance in determining Lucas’ whereabouts. At about 9:55 p.m., they received a report of a man moaning outside the caller’s residence near West 16th Avenue and Olive Street.

The man claimed his girlfriend has assaulted him and asked to use the caller’s phone. The caller had seen news reports on Lucas earlier in the day and suspected the man might be Lucas, and notified police.

Officers began a search in the area and a K-9 handler subsequently tracked and located the man, who police identified as Lucas and took into custody.

Eugene police spokesperson Melinda Kletzok said in several cases, a man police believe to be Lucas gained access to residents’ homes after he knocked on their doors and asked for favors. In one case, police said, two students let him use their phone, wash his clothes and ride in their car. The man eventually stole laptops, cameras and other items from them, the students reported.

Kletzok said EPD saw the theft reports start to crop up around Nov. 3 and saw a pattern.
“It seems in particular that he’s knocking on doors, and when he finds someone who’s more vulnerable or more trusting, perhaps, he uses a line and then he gets into the house,” Kletzok said Thursday prior to the arrest.

The man matching Lucas’ description gained access to at least four residences, Kletzok said.

On Nov. 3, someone reported to police that a man with a similar description to that of Lucas stole a watch. When the victim saw the man in the neighborhood later, the victim approached him about the stolen watch and the man denied it, the victim told police. The man later confronted the victim and threatened the victim with a knife.

Lucas’ outstanding warrant for methamphetamine possession is from Oct. 29. His criminal trespass warrant is from Aug. 4.

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