PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – A registered sex offender, a man with an outstanding warrant, and a man who had just smoked pot all showed up to an undercover sting operation organized by Oregon Department of Transportation.
The enforcement mission is designed to protect consumers from illegal movers. A spokesperson says illegal movers will advertise their services online. The 10 companies that were targeted Wednesday were not certified with the state.
During the operation, ODOT was also checking to make sure the mover’s vehicle and driver were properly registered with the state. ODOT also conducted truck inspections to make sure the trucks were safe.
Jeff Rackley, who works for Portland Movers Ready, showed up to the sting operation moments after smoking pot, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office says. A drug recognition expert (DRE) tested him and determined that Rackley was not impaired. Rackley was not arrested nor cited for possession of pot.
He said he was “embarrassed” about being caught. Rackley told KOIN 6 News reporter Brent Weisberg that he understands most homeowners wouldn’t be happy to have someone inside their home who smoked pot. He didn’t have an explanation to why he smoked pot.
When deputies ran a background check on Rackley’s passenger, Ruben Rael, they determined that he was a registered sex offender. Officials say if movers have felony or certain misdemeanor convictions on their records, within the last five years, they cannot be employed as movers.
Rackley says he and his crew do good work and are trustworthy. He says he was unaware that he was required to be registered with the state. Since 2009, 90 citations have been issued. Officials say 23 of those companies have taken the required states to become certified.
Nicholas Oetken, part of a separate moving crew, was arrested by deputies after they learned he had a warrant out for his arrest following a parole violation. Court records show Oetken was wanted in Clackamas County for possession of a control substance. He will be booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center and then transported to Clackamas County, officials say.
Tyler William Gilbert, part of a separate moving crew, was also arrested after deputies learned that he was wanted for failure to appear for a traffic violation. Deputies also determined that he was driving without insurance and with a suspended license.
ODOT says moving is a regulated industry in Oregon. “Any company or person offering transportation of household goods services must be certified by ODOT,” spokesperson Dave Thompson says. “Unscrupulous movers have been known to demand extra money, sometimes thousands of dollars, before unloading personal property and sometimes have disappeared altogether.”
Sophie Dichter, a spokesperson with the Better Business Bureau, says people who are moving should do their homework before hiring. She warns that people who offer extremely low prices could be illegitimate. Dichter says the BBB allows people to check movers for ratings and state certification on its website.
ODOT has information on all certified movers on its website.