Shortly after midnight on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, an Oregon State Police trooper reported spotting a backhoe driving in the area of I-205 and Hwy. 213 in Clackamas County. The trooper initiated a traffic stop. However, the backhoe turned up the wrong way on the on-ramp from Hwy. 213; by the time the trooper looped back around, the backhoe had disappeared.
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Patrol deputies began searching for the backhoe. Around 12:40 a.m., a resident reported seeing the backhoe near Holly Lane and Redland Road.
A CCSO deputy spotted the backhoe shortly after 1 a.m., driving on S. Fischers Mill Road. The backhoe was straddling the double yellow line at times, driving on the wrong side of the road, at speeds estimated at 10-20 mph.
The deputy initiated a traffic stop just west of Hattan Road. Because the backhoe had refused to stop for OSP troopers earlier that night, the deputy called for backup.
The suspect driver was identified as Mitchell Ray Johnston, 39, of Aloha. His driver's license was felony revoked. He initially told deputies he was "lost," but soon admitted he'd stolen the backhoe from a lot at 141st and TV Highway in Beaverton.
Johnston had driven the backhoe nearly 30 miles from its original location -- on a slow-moving route from TV Highway to Highway 217 to I-5 to I-205 -- before being spotted by the state trooper.
The owners of the backhoe responded to the scene to retrieve their stolen construction equipment.