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Man Arrested for Laughing Maniacally While Chasing Pedestrian in Stolen $80k Forklift

A witness said she saw him drive onto a sidewalk.

A 31-year-old man has been accused of stealing a forklift in downtown Portland, Oregon, and chasing pedestrians while "laughing maniacally."  Police say Joffre Zelinski stole the substantial piece of construction equipment from a parking garage. A witness said she saw him drive onto a sidewalk while laughing and yelling "I literally stole this." Read on to find out what happened next, and how the incident took a twist when police tried to stop the joyrider.

Chasing Pedestrians, Driving the Wrong Way

Portland Police Department/Facebook

Officers from the Portland Police Central Precinct caught up with the man while he was driving the wrong way on Southwest Harvey Milk Street at Southwest 4th Avenue, KATU reported. When the suspect saw a police officer approach, he drove toward the patrol car and stopped.  Zelinski told the officer there might be a federal warrant for his arrest. He was taken into custody for burglary, theft, and driving a stolen vehicle. No one was injured in the incident.

An $80,000 Joyride


According to the arrest affidavit, on March 28, Zelinski was seen on security footage at a parking garage, driving the forklift down from the sixth floor of the structure. To get the forklift out of the building, he drove it through fencing and a steel chain. The forklift had been parked at the structure by a construction company and was valued at $80K.  When the police officer activated his patrol car lights to stop Zelinski, the forklift made a U-turn, lowered the forks to ground level, and began driving toward the officer. The officer assumed there would be a collision, but Zelinksi stopped short of the car.

Suspect Claimed He Was … Construction Worker

A close up of a construction worker using a jackhammer

According to the affidavit, the officer left his car, walked up to the forklift, and talked to Zelinski. Zelinski claimed he did construction work for "Axiom," but had to look around for the brand on the forklift before answering.  When asked where he got the forklift, Zelinski said, "some parking garage, I don't know." He was then taken into custody.

Social Media Reacts

Woman on her phone looking at social media.
13_Phunkod / Shutterstock

"Good work by Central Precinct Officers today responding to a 911 call about a subject driving a stolen forklift thru downtown. The subject was driving erratically and chasing pedestrians," the precinct wrote on their Twitter account.

"The way I hollered when I saw the headline. Portlandia never seizes to entertain me," one man replied to the post. 

"Unusual in any other city but Portland," wrote another.

"Does anyone have a video?" one woman inquired. "I would really like to put my eyes on this." (Unfortunately, none has been located.)

More Local Stolen-Forklift News

Portland Police Central NRT Bike Squad

This isn't the only forklift-related crime news in Portland recently. Just last month, a local man was arrested and charged with stealing a forklift from the Portland Marathon and taking it on a joyride in 2021, KPIC reported.  Police say that Jeffrey Allen Brooks, 29, told them he found the forklift on the waterfront and that someone had forced him to take the vehicle at gunpoint. He has been charged with with aggravated theft, criminal mischief, and trespassing.

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