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Did Oregon City police just catch Portland’s notorious Interstate Avenue nail bandit?

Posted by on October 1st, 2019 at 9:52 am

Suspect’s car and nail stash.
(Photos: Oregon City PD)

Around 5:30 am this morning Oregon City Police Department officers have caught and arrested a man for intentionally throwing roofing nails onto streets.

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office booking photo of Bret Michael Wilson.

As many of you know, Portland has had its own mysterious nails-in-the-street problem for many years. We first reported on the issue of roofing nails on North Interstate Avenue in March 2017. The problem has been so acute Portland resident Jessica Hunter started a Twitter account to post all the nails she finds.

What caught my eye in the OCPD statement is that their suspect, 56-year-old Oregon City resident Bret Michael Wilson, admitted to throwing nails onto streets “throughout the metropolitan area” over 50 times for the “last couple years.” It leads me to wonder whether or not Mr. Wilson is behind the scores of nails that have shown up on Interstate Avenue (mostly between the Moda Center and Alberta Street).

Here’s more from the OCPD:

We have dubbed Mr. Wilson as the nighttime nailer because over the last two years, someone had been intentionally throwing roofing nails onto local streets, primarily in the early morning hours while it was still dark outside. Some of the thrown nails did cause damage to motorists’ tires, luckily no one was injured…

This morning, Mr. Wilson was lodged at the Clackamas County Jail on four counts of Disorderly Conduct II. We are combining the previous cases together and will be submitting them to the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office.

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One of many handfuls of nails picked up from N Interstate Avenue over the years.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In January of this year, PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s office deemed the nails on Interstate Avenue an “intentional act” and teamed up with the Portland Police Bureau to find the culprit. Thanks to your support, BikePortland was able offer a $1,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest. Despite this attention on the problem, we’ve received no major tips or leads and we haven’t heard much from the Commissioner or the PPB.

The OCPD was able to devote police resources to the problem. In fact, it was such a priority that Oregon City’s Mayor Dan Holladay personally broke the news of the arrest via Facebook. He said officers conducted a stakeout that led to the arrest of the “nighttime nailer”.

I’ve forwarded what we know to Commissioner Eudaly’s office in hopes they’ll forward the OCPD case to the PPB to see if there’s any connection. I’ve also contacted the Clackamas County District Attorney’s office to make them aware of the Portland incidents. Stay tuned for updates. If there’s a connection, we have dozens of reports from readers that we can add to the District Attorney’s case.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

33 Comments
  • Avatar
    bikeninja October 1, 2019 at 10:06 am

    It will be interesting if this guy had some kind of connection (travel wise) to the Interstate area of North Portland. Does he work there? or have seasons tickets to Hockey or Basketball at the Rose Quarter? Or does he just have plenty of free time and gas money to cruise the entire metro area sprinkling nails like some kind of evil Johnny Appleseed.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 1, 2019 at 10:08 am

      Should be pretty easy for prosecutors to question him about his Portland travel habits and perhaps even ask him specifically about Interstate Avenue. I’ve emailed Clack Co DA’s office to make them aware of the connection. Sure would be great to finally put the Interstate Ave nails thing behind us!

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        Jason October 9, 2019 at 4:35 pm

        My guess is whomever is leaving the nails gets off the freeway near moda gets onto interstate at N Larrabee Ave (Where they start) and is heading to Kaiser Permanente (Where they stop).

        Source: I’ve ridden interstate for the past 5 years… every weekday

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    K'Tesh October 1, 2019 at 10:33 am

    I hope they nail him to the wall!!!

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    Buzz October 1, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Those look like the nails alright, I just picked up a few more handfuls on Interstate last week.

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      Scott Kocher October 1, 2019 at 4:56 pm

      If you have (or come across) nails scattered on Interstate or elsewhere… save them and contact the Oregon City Police. It might be possible to match them.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

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    wkw October 1, 2019 at 10:49 am

    My GF has about 5 flat tires from driving in the Interstate area. There are two roofing companies on Tillamook st. It will be interesting to see if this guy is a current or former employee there. At least one co-worker speculates that the Interstate nails started when N Wheeler was closed to right hand turns off of N Broadway. This would affect the businesses in question (as well as many others). I am not saying that these businesses were aware of this malfeasance, but if this man was an employee, it should be looked into.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 1, 2019 at 11:51 am

      Good points wkw. I too have been intrigued by the idea that the person is from one of the roofing companies nearby. A google search turns up a Bret Wilson as working for McPeak Roofing in Idaho… but so far no connection to Portland.

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    mh October 1, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Subpoena the man’s cell phone records in the hope he was using some kind of location tracker.

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      PDXCyclist October 1, 2019 at 3:49 pm

      it’s on my default if you have an iPhone. Settings –> Privacy –> Location — scroll to the bottom –> System Services –> Frequent Locations.

      It’s quite accurate too!

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    carie October 1, 2019 at 11:09 am

    I’m wondering what car insurance he has, would it track his routes, or just milage driven?!

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty October 1, 2019 at 11:12 am

    I’m interested in learning how he was caught.

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      Jon October 1, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      I guess it is not that surprising that the Portland police did not catch him since there is pretty much no traffic enforcement in our city. I wonder how long Oregon City was looking for him?

      Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Avatar
    Al October 1, 2019 at 11:19 am

    From the article ,”Oregon City’s Mayor Dan Holladay personally broke the news of the arrest via Facebook. He said officers conducted a stakeout that led to the arrest of the “nighttime nailer”.

    Recommended Thumb up 14

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      Buzz October 1, 2019 at 9:28 pm

      I have read about Dan, I think he is on our side.

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      Middle of the Road Guy October 3, 2019 at 10:43 pm

      Suddenly police are the good guys again.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

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    B. Carfree October 1, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Interesting that the cops note that it was lucky that no one was injured (this time) and yet he’s only charged with a trivial misdemeanor. His actions could reasonably have caused serious injuries and death. That warrants charges that aren’t of the sort leveled for making excessive noise, imo.

    I also feel that people who use cars to harm others should never be allowed to own or operate cars again, kind of like what happens with felons and guns. It’s a tool that can cause great harm when not used responsibly and not everyone is responsible enough to use them.

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    Chris I October 1, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Does he work at and/or own a tire shop? If that is the case, it seems like they could add a few more charges.

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    Stephen J Sanow October 1, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    “Brett the Ripper” may have to retire.

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    pea October 1, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    there were a ton of them in the Interstate bike lane last week — i was heading home from a late meeting on Tuesday and didn’t stop to pick them up, but Wednesday i ended up picking about 20 up with another guy doing the same. hopefully this is the end!

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  • Avatar
    Mike C October 1, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Same nails as I’ve always picked up! Not that they’re uncommon, but my fingers a crossed!

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    Racer X October 1, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    I hope it is a non jury trail…who knows if a “jury of his peers” would find him guilty, even with confession…unless the prosecution can document that his reported crime affected more drivers than cyclists. And if the reward cannot go to the PD that broke the case (coffee fund or non profit of their choice) then maybe it can be used to pay an intern to research all the reported flats fixed from new roofing nails in his zone.

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    Dwainedibbly October 1, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    1. Do the nails he had with him match the nails found in the road?
    2. Hopefully the DA will subpoena his credit card records & see if he has any purchase records at building supply stores.
    3. Agree with checking his cell phone location records as well.
    4. What the hell is wrong with this guy? Would love it if BP can get an interview (after the trial, of course).

    Recommended Thumb up 5

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    jered bogli October 1, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    I just found some more between Oregon and the I-5 underpass… Hope this is the guy!!

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    Fred October 2, 2019 at 6:55 am

    I would like to see an ORS that revokes a person’s driving license when the person uses a car to commit a crime. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and people who abuse the privilege should have it taken away. Mr Wilson can try to throw his nails from the window of a Trimet bus.

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    Johnny Bye Carter October 2, 2019 at 9:27 am

    Good on him for taking responsibility and not trying to lie and weasel out of it.

    Hopefully he’s the only one that’s been doing it.

    I hope we get to hear his motives.

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      Pete October 6, 2019 at 5:50 pm

      Just a guess: “Damn bicyclists think they own the road!”

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    rebecca October 2, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Just last night there were a whole bunch of new roofing nails in the bike lane on Lloyd where it dips under the freeway overpass heading up to the Esplanade-Rose Quarter intersection – it’s been a popular stretch for nail scatterings over the past year or so. They may have caught this guy, but there’s definitely more than one jerk doing this.

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    Jim Kysela October 2, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    So glad they caught this guy, here’s hoping he’s the most prevalent of the jerks. Seemed to have a little break on N Interstate until last week, kicked one batch to the curb Wed am (9/25) and two big batches Th am (9/26), both between the Coliseum and Tillamook near the Broadway Bridge viaduct, took pics and will email to Jonathan as done in previous incidents. Didn’t go after the smaller onesie/twosie’s but there were more. Agree with revoking the driving privileges for a while, he is not deserving of those! A little time in a cell to sit and think would be even better.

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    Greg October 2, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Not a lot of sympathy for this guy. Perhaps a “bed of nails” in his jail cell as part of his sentence?

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    X October 4, 2019 at 6:59 am

    What capability do the Oregon City Police have that Portland Police do not? In fairness Portland has several, or many, police positions open. However this a documented series of repeated crimes in the same places. It seems like a failure of initiative or giving a damn. Any way, cheers to the OCPD!

    If the guy felt bad enough about it that he spilled his story right away I wonder why he didn’t just quit? Guess it’s hard to hang up the cape.

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    Lisa October 5, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Similar nails have been scattered at SE Stark and NE Hogan.

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