Law enforcement cracks down on 'safe-haven for crime'

UMATILLA COUNTY, Ore. - Umatilla County is cracking down on a house that is causing a world of headaches for local law enforcement. The sheriff's department wants the property owners gone and they are not alone.

Meet Jeremiah Ayers. He was booked on 15 counts of auto theft last month alone. This is just one example of the Sheriffs Department busting a chronic offender at this location. 1732 Northeast Second street in Hermiston, just off Highway 395.

"The property owners are inviting that element into their home and the property owners know the folks aren't upstanding citizens because he is right in the middle of it with them," said Umatilla Sheriff Terry Rowan.

Police call it a safe-haven for crime and chronic offenders. In the last 12 months the sheriff's department has been called 19 times. Finding everything from a auto chop-shop in the garage to drugs and guns. Locals can't believe this is going on in their back yard.

"It's surprising a little bit, surprising that it was that close and that I could be that unaware of it," said resident David Ego.

David Ego owns a flower shop right across the highway from the property. He also lives not too far from the house. He hopes the awareness will not just stop the traffic at the property - but the criminals.

"The property hasn't been a problem, the people are the problem and that could be any place in the community," said Ego.

The property is in Hermiston city limits, though the land is Umatilla County. Making it a duel partnership between Hermiston police and the sheriffs office. In the past 90 days local law have made five arrests.

"This is an effort to send a message to the property owners, we will not tolerate it," said Sheriff Rowan.

"I think it's encouraging that they're going to take a stand and make something happen because of it, so I feel it's more positive than a negative," said Ego.

The case will go before the Board of Commissioners to see if they can evict the property owners. They hope to have a response by the end of the year.