Police say a Kelso man stole a pickup, fled into the Foster Farms chicken plant and stripped down to his underwear before he was caught Saturday and booked into the Cowlitz County Jail, where he celebrated his birthday Monday.
Officers were dispatched several minutes after 10:30 a.m. to reports that Cody Kreger, who turned 33 on Monday, had taken one of his employer’s Ford F-350s without permission. According to police reports, surveillance footage of the company’s property showed Kreger moving steel beams with a forklift, cutting them into pieces and loading them into the F-350.
A Cowlitz County sheriff’s sergeant discovered Kreger had sold scrap metal to Waste Control that appeared similar to the metal beams he had taken from his employer, Steel Management Services, according to police reports. The total amount sold was 1,680 pounds for about $118.
At about 12:30 p.m. that day, Kelso officers saw Kreger drive the stolen vehicle in the 700 block of Colorado Street near his residence and then leave on foot, reports said. Cowlitz County deputies and Longview and Kelso police officers began pursuing him. According to Cowlitz 911 dispatch logs, Kreger fled through Foster Farms and into a wooded area, taking his shirt and pants off in the process and jumping into the slough.
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He eventually gave up, apologized, and returned to the officers, telling them that “he knew he was going to jail so he had to try” to escape, according to a police report.
Kreger was arrested on suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle, second-degree taking a vehicle without permission, third-degree theft and obstructing a public servant.
At Kreger’s request, an officer entered his apartment to get him clean clothes before he was booked into jail.