An act of public indecency near the Ashland 7-11 helped bring about the arrest of a California man suspected of a theft in the state of Washington.




A local resident saw John Douglas Hopkins, age 40 of Glenn, Calif. fondling himself in his car on Wightman Street on Wednesday.




Ashland Police officials said Hopkins, who arrived in town on Wednesday, tried to make a run for it when he realized the resident was calling the police, Deputy Police Chief Rich Walsh said.




"He knew she noticed him," Walsh said, noting that his car was blocked by a 7-11 delivery truck in a manner that prevented him from driving away. "He took off running and took some belongings with him."




He grabbed several large backpacks and bags from his Honda before he fled. When Ashland Police officers tracked him down at Subway restaurant on Siskiyou Boulevard, about 15 minutes later, he was found with $1,300 worth of stolen property, cocaine and marijuana.




"He has a pretty extensive history with property crime from Georgia, Washington and California," said Sgt. Teresa Selby. "A lot of this investigation will go to the Washington area."




Hopkins is a suspect in a theft report from LaCenter, Wash., where he was caught on video stealing a purse, according to police reports.




"We're coordinating with the police in Washington to see if they want to extradite him," Selby said. "They may just want to issue a warrant for his arrest, so they can arrest him if he ever goes back to that state."




On Thursday in Ashland, he was found with six cell phones, several stolen credit cards, a social security card that was not his, electronic devices and CDs.




"It appears that this is kind of his career," Selby said, noting that more theft charges are possible. "These type of investigations have a tendency to snowball."




Ashland Police added charges of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, for the incident on Wightman Street to Hopkins' list of charges.




Walsh said Ashland police arrest people for public masturbation "about a couple times a year."




He added, "Obviously, it happens a lot more than gets reported."




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