One in custody, two at large in theft of many, many watermelons

BEAVERTON, Ore. - Apparently, it takes a village to steal a few tons of watermelons.

Or, at least, three guys with a truck.

One suspect is in custody and two more are at large in connection with 17 pallets of watermelons that were stolen from two local grocery stores earlier this month, according to a Beaverton police spokesman.

William "Billy" Traverso was arrested at his parents' home Wednesday morning. Police are still searching for Molalla's Brad Taylor, 40, and on Wednesday said they'd identified Gregory Bennett, 46, as the driver. Bennett is still at large as well.

So, why watermelons? Taylor once held a job delivering watermelons, so police believe the three intended to sell them off, at a total value of about $7,000.

At 8:30 a.m. on June 7, police responded to a report that six pallets of watermelons weighing 5,784 pounds had been stolen from the Winco on Cedar Hills Blvd. in Beaverton.

An employee had confronted two suspects at about 4 a.m. and went to find a supervisor. By the time the employee and supervisor returned, the suspects and watermelons were gone.

The employee's description of the men and their truck, along with the store's security camera, helped police identify the two suspects as Taylor and Traverso, according to a police spokesman.

During the course of the investigation, police learned 11 more pallets had been stolen at about 1:40 a.m. that same morning from a Winco in Tigard.

Five pallets were recovered from a storage building in Aurora, Ore. Police say Paul Stoller of Stoller Farms contacted them after Taylor dropped the watermelons off.

Winco employees picked up the recovered melons, but the stores won't sell them.

If you any have information on the location of either of the suspects still at large, contact the Beaverton Police Department at (503) 629-0111.