PORTLAND – There are major concerns about crime in Southeast Portland's industrial district. The police bureau said its hands are tied and that's not sitting well with business owners.
Jim Clark owns a company in the area, and he's tired of the crime he and his employees have to deal with.
“In this little corner there were four or five. I think at least four cars within a half block that were broken into in a period of two hours,” Clark said.
Last weekend, Clark's business partner put an expensive camera in his backseat and ran back into the office only to come back minutes later to find his locks destroyed –thankfully the camera was still there.
Just a few days later, and a few blocks away, somebody broke into one of Clark’s secure parking lots and took off with hundreds of dollars worth of tools.
“It's maddening because this is a burgeoning neighborhood and we're contributing to the growth in a positive way,” he said.
The criminals, mostly car prowlers, are doing just the opposite. Clark said some of the homeless in the area may be to blame, and authorities agree.
“The lower southeast is a challenge in the sense that it is not a big residential area,” said Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police Bureau. “What we do ask people to understand is if it's a car prowl and there's no suspect information, a police officer probably won't come take a report.”
He said whoever's responsible is probably selling the loot to fuel either a drug or alcohol habit.
That frustrates Clark. He fears that without help from police, things will escalate to the point that somebody gets hurt, if not killed.
“And why do we have to wait for that to happen before we act,” he said.
Clark is thinking about organizing his own group to patrol the streets. In the meantime, investigators said you place valuables out of plain sight.
KGW reporter Mike Benner contributed to this report.