PORTLAND, Ore. -- New numbers show car thefts in Portland were up over the last year—way up.
According to new statistics released by the Portland Police Bureau, thieves stole 7,541 vehicles between September 2016 and September 2017. That was nearly 2,500 more cars than were stolen the year before.
The vast majority of the stolen cars were Hondas, Toyotas and Subarus from the mid-1990s.
“I just felt like I lost my freedom when my car was stolen,” said Krista Baldwin, whose white 1995 Honda Civic was stolen last month from Southeast Portland. “It honestly just sucks.”
In January, someone stole Ryan Baisley's 1995 Subaru Legacy from Northeast Portland.
“It was a pretty frustrating moment, no question,” said Baisley.
Police recovered Baisley’s car a month later, lining up with another statistic: 81 percent of cars stolen in the last year were found within 30 days, though their conditions varied.
“They had stolen everything out of it,” said Baisley. “The glove compartment had been removed from the dashboard, there was a bunch of meth smoked in it.”
According to police, drug addiction was a major factor the number of cars stolen. Portland Police Sgt. Chris Burley said finding a solution is complicated since drug treatment is different for everyone and something offenders don't often find in jail. Because of that, and police staffing issues, Burley said the best theft deterrents start with car owners.
“With the vehicle, we like to say ‘leave it showroom clean,’” said Burley. “Don't leave anything in it, even something you think is inconsequential.”
Burley said it’s also important to use a steering wheel club, especially on the most targeted cars.
“Thieves will see that and think instead of taking 2 to 5 minutes to steal a car, now it's going to take 10 minutes,” said Burley. “They might walk away from that.”
It's advice Baldwin plans to follow with her car if she gets it back.
“I'm not giving up hope,” said Baldwin, “It could still be out there.”