Man and woman arrested in carjacking/robbery
On July 13, Eugene Police Patrol officers took a report of a robbery/carjacking. Although there were at least nine armed robberies from July 13 to the present, a few presented similar suspect descriptions and methods of operation. The suspects typically targeted individuals who were walking alone or who were getting in/out of vehicles. A Eugene Police Property/Financial Crimes Unit detective was assigned the case.
On July 23, an EPD officer investigated a reported vehicle break in at a local 7-Eleven, where the suspect of the theft dropped a phone in the car. The phone turned out to be linked to the victim of a previous robbery committed only 30 minutes prior. The officer began working with detectives and they were able to identify two suspects: Edward Leo Gent, age 35, of Eugene, and Josie Rose Velasquez, age 33. Both live in Eugene and Gent was recently released from prison. The identification of the potential suspects broke open the case.
On July 24, another Eugene Police officer investigated a Hit and Run and received information from one of the involved parties about yet another robbery. This turned into two separate robberies.
The Property and Financial Crimes Unit detective worked the cases, continuing to collect evidence, author and then submit a search warrant to a judge for the suspects’ residence and vehicle. On July 25, a plan was put into place to use Eugene Police SWAT to execute the high-risk warrant, with the assistance of EPD’s Special Investigations Unit. The suspects were stopped in their vehicle at Fairfield and Hwy. 99 around 2:40 p.m.. At the time of the stop, Gent was armed with a handgun.
A search of the vehicle yielded evidence to support the charges of Robbery in the First Degree for both suspects. Gent was also lodged at the Lane County Jail on Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Unlawful Use of a Weapon charges. Eugene Police Property and Financial Crimes Unit continues to investigate any possible ties the pair may have to other robberies and additional charges may be forthcoming.
The detectives in the cases are urging people to stay aware of their surroundings and continue to be vigilant about their personal safety.
Be careful around intersections controlled by stop lights or signs, garages and parking lots, shopping malls, grocery stores, and other locations. Sometimes the thieves can work in teams or pairs and approach a vehicle at a traffic signal or when you are getting into or getting out of your vehicle.
Park your vehicle in a well-lit area where there is good lighting and that has high visibility. As you approach your vehicle, have your keys ready and be observant about people in the area. Lock your vehicle as soon as you get in and then keep your doors locked and if possible, the windows up as you drive around.
When you stop in traffic, make sure you leave room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front so you can maneuver and escape if possible.