Multnomah County
District Attorney

1200 SW 1st Avenue, Suite 5200
Portland, OR 97204

Multnomah County District Attorney

1200 SW 1st Avenue, Suite 5200
| Portland, OR 97204
| 503-988-3162

Auto Theft Task Force “Operation MistleTow” Exposes Illegal Towing Ring Trafficking Stolen Cars

Suspect Arrested Today

January 5, 2024

A months-long investigation by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office’s (MCDA) Auto Theft Task Force (ATTF), dubbed “Operation MistleTow,” resulted in the arrest today of Joseph Allen Beard, 53, a suspect alleged to have stolen multiple vehicles through an illegal tow truck operation in order to sell the cars for scrap metal. Beard is facing multiple charges including Trafficking in Stolen Vehicles, Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Theft, Criminal Mischief, Forgery, and Identity Theft.

An investigation led by the MCDA ATTF investigator, in collaboration with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct Stolen Vehicle Operation, East Neighborhood Response Team (NRT), and North NRT, revealed that a representative of Maters Auto Recycling sold about 80 vehicles to Rivergate Scrap Metal between late August and early November 2023. To date, the investigation concluded that five of the 80 vehicles were reported stolen, and that about 17 had Vehicle Identification Numbers that appear to be false. The total paid out by Rivergate for the vehicles was about $29,000 in cash to persons claimed to be representing Maters. Beard is alleged to be the primary Maters’ representative to Rivergate and is personally connected to the five stolen vehicles.

 One of the stolen vehicles sold by Beard to Rivergate, which was subsequently crushed for scrap metal. 

All of the transactions that were connected to the stolen cars were tendered by Joseph Beard with a DMV Possessory Lien Foreclosure form. This form is used exclusively when the claimed ownership of a vehicle is after an auction from a tow company who initially validly towed at the government’s request. The investigation revealed that none of the vehicles that Beard sold appeared to have been acquired at an auction or were initially towed at government request; that the submitted DMV paperwork was fraudulent; that Maters Auto Recycling is not a licensed tow company; and that Beard did not drive a licensed tow truck. 

During the investigation, on December 9, 2023, it is alleged that Beard was caught in the act of stealing a Cadillac belonging to a 79-year-old woman. Undaunted, the woman – who was in another vehicle with her great-grandkids when she noticed her Cadillac being towed – boxed in Beard’s tow truck and demanded he return her vehicle. Fortunately for the great-grandmother, Beard complied with her demand. 

As part of a PPB detached stolen vehicle operation, Beard was arrested today on outstanding warrants and was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center. He is facing 19 new charges related to the towing operation (one count of Trafficking in Stolen Vehicles, three counts of Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, three counts of Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, three counts of Forgery in the First Degree, three counts of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, three counts of Theft in the First Degree, and three counts of Identity Theft) and three charges related to the the December 9th car theft (one count of Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, one count of Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, and one count of Theft in the First Degree). 

This case remains under investigation. ATTF Deputy DA Cody Linderholm expects further charges pending indictment. MCDA will provide updates as this case progresses.

Beard is only accused of committing a crime. He is innocent unless and until proven guilty.