Police say that Harold Huddleston has been roaming the West for decades, robbing sleeping campers.
Now they’ve got him and, they say, the loot to tie him to the crimes--six pickup truckloads’ worth: 10,000 compact discs, 5,000 knapsacks, dozens of fishing poles, sleeping bags, coolers, sunglasses, jewelry, a chain saw, and five $400 tickets to Barbra Streisand concerts.
Huddleston, 51, was arrested on burglary charges last week after raids on his suburban Portland, Ore., apartment and storage locker.
“This guy is a genuine career criminal, a sociopath with a true criminal mind,” said Kelly C. Carroll, Huddleston’s probation officer in the 1970s.
Huddleston’s wife, Pamela, said her husband has a legitimate business dealing in used CDs. “They’re dreaming,” she said.
Huddleston has eight convictions on burglary, drug and stolen property charges dating back to 1963. He served prison sentences in Oregon, California, Oklahoma and Utah for preying on campers.
He was serving a 10-year burglary sentence when he was paroled in 1991. Since then, authorities in California alone have linked him to 1,200 car break-ins and losses of more than $1 million.
Huddleston is accused of breaking into cars parked at campgrounds as the owners slept in nearby tents. Police say he used a wire tool he kept stuffed down the back of his jacket to pry up car roofs and crank down windows.
Campers confronted him several times, but Huddleston always talked his way out of trouble, Portland Police Sgt. David Lerwick said.
Authorities got a break when one of his neighbors, a police officer, noticed that Huddleston’s odometer showed he routinely made weekend trips of about 3,000 miles. The officer alerted California officials who were investigating the burglaries.
Officers searching Huddleston’s apartment shouted with joy when they discovered marked items they had planted in a car at a campground, Lerwick said.
Now they must catalogue every one of the estimated 50,000 items they found, Lerwick said. “It’s a monumental task.”