Police nab alleged gnome-napper
The mystery of the missing garden gnomes may finally have been solved.Who knew there was a market for hot lawn ornaments? But she's lucky - around this neck of the woods she would be more likely to get a load of 00 buck if the dogs didn't get her first.
Kimberly Rae Baker-Bundy, facing a Washington County Circuit Court theft warrant, turned herself in to the county jail late last week and now faces trial on the charges.
Although the 49-year-old Sherwood resident has not entered a plea, police think she roamed far and wide through Washington and Clackamas counties, perhaps for years, allegedly stealing items not solidly nailed down from area lawns, gardens and backyards.
"I've never seen a case like this," Sherwood police Detective Dwight Onchi said. "She literally had more stuff than you can imagine."
Police began investigating the case in late 2002, when Onchi noticed a trend of police reports describing apparently random thefts of weathered birdhouses, gargoyles, ceramic frogs, signs and numerous other knickknacks.
"I kept saying to various officers, one day, we're going to come up on this whole yard full of ornaments," Onchi said. "And that's just what happened."
The case broke just before Christmas that year, when a Sherwood couple, returning to their residence, saw a woman crossing their lawn carrying what appeared to be items from their backyard. The man tried unsuccessfully to stop her from driving off, but managed to get her license plate number, Onchi said.
The case took so long to put together, he said, due mainly to the difficulty of matching specific items recovered from Baker-Bundy's former residence with photographs of missing lawn items supplied by victims.
By the time police obtained a warrant to search the residence, Onchi said, they found huge piles of doormats, glass baubles, wagon wheels, wind chimes, lawn deer and numerous other items.
Inside the house, Onchi found what he called a lawn-ornament "chop shop."