HERMISTON — An officer who stopped to help motorists Thursday afternoon near Hermiston instead arrested three suspects who led to the recovery of three stolen vehicles.

Umatilla County undersheriff Jim Littlefield said Loren Westmoreland, an officer with the Umatilla County Community Justice Department, was driving on South Cabana Road near Johnston Lane, Hermiston, when he saw a Honda Civic and a Chevrolet Celebrity with their hoods open. Westmoreland stopped to see if he could help, Littlefield said.

Three men were in the Honda, and Westmoreland ran the licenses plates of the cars and discovered the Honda was stolen several weeks ago from Atkinson Staffing, 80796 N. Highway 395, Hermiston. The officer also found the license plates on the Chevrolet belonged to another car.

Jesus Pantoja, 26, of 1230 Ridgeway Ave., Hermiston, was behind the wheel of the Honda, so Westmoreland arrested him for possession of a stolen vehicle and for outstanding warrants.

The other men, Rigoberto Tena Rosales, 22, of 230 E. Dogwood Ave., Hermiston, and Luis Alberto Roman, 21, 423 E. Gladys Ave., Hermiston, also had warrants, and Rosales faces a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle for the Chevrolet, which also was from Hermiston. Littlefield said all three men had methamphetmine, so Westmoreland added a drug possession charge to each.

And that license plate belonged to a third stolen vehicle, Littlefield said, which deputies found at Pantoja’s residence.

Littlefield said it was good police work. Pantoja, Rosales, and Roman remained in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton, as of Friday.

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