Travis L. Backford, 24, is under arrest for one of the thefts, DUI and driving without a license. He was apprehended by Knik workers early Monday.
DILLINGHAM: Back in July, KDLG News reported that a vehicle belonging to Adam Kane of Dillingham had been stolen from his yard on Lupine Drive. The car was driven high-speed down Kanakanak Road and wrecked at the construction site. It was totaled, and Kane's insurance didn't cover the loss. The driver, presumably the thief, was able to kick his way out of the smashed car and run off before police could apprehend him.
This week, two more vehicles were stolen in what seems similar circumstances.
Under arrest for one of the thefts is Travis Lee Backford, 24, who was actually stopped and detained by Knik Construction workers until police arrived.
Police took Backford into custody around 5:30am Monday morning, near the Knik gravel pit site on Aleknagik Lake Road. His blood alcohol limit was .152%, nearly twice the legal limit to be behind the wheel. He told the police that he had just drank half a "fifth" of R&R whiskey, apparently at a party with others at a home near Airport Road.
The GMC Suburban Backford is charged with stealing belongs to Ray Thorson. The vehicle had been parked at Thorson's home near Airport Road, with the doors unlocked and the keys on the dash.
Ray Thorson's son Tom was driving a semi-truck for Knik early Monday when he saw his dad's Suburban on the road. He called Ray, who told him it must've been stolen.
Tom followed the Suburban. He radioed up to his fellow Knik crew at the gravel pit site on Lake Road and asked them to try and stop the car. They pulled a semi-truck into the road to block traffic as the Suburban approached.
Once stopped, Thorson walked up to the Suburban and reached in the window to grab the keys.
According to police, Backford, in the driver seat, kicked and punched at Thorson, then shifted into gear and drove the vehicle down the ditch and into a tree. Thorson was still hanging on from the window.
The scuffle continued as Thorson held Backford down from running off. A yet to be identified female, who had been in the passenger seat of the stolen car, punched Thorson repeatedly before she fled the scene. The other Knik workers then helped in holding Backford down.
The police arrived, and Backford was arrested. Thorson was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
Backford was charged with felony vehicle theft, felony assault, and felony criminal mischief for causing extensive damage to the vehicle. On Tuesday, the magistrate dismissed the assault and criminal mischief charges for lacking probable cause. Backford is also facing class A misdemeanors for DUI and driving without a license.
Backford, 24, has a lengthy rap sheet dating to 2007. He has previous convictions for assault, shoplifting, theft, DUI, reckless driving, and driving with a revoked license.
Ray Thorson, the owner of the GMC Suburban, was waiting on an estimate of the damage to his vehicle. He said his insurance probably wouldn't be covering the repair costs.
Dillingham police are also investigating another vehicle theft they think may have happened around the same time Sunday night or early Monday. A grey Isuzu pickup truck was taken from the long-term parking lot at the airport, not far from where the Suburban was stolen, and eventually abandoned on Kanakanak Road near the construction site.
The police are looking for witnesses who may have additional information about when the Isuzu pickup was stolen and left by the side of the road.