PORTLAND – Surveillance cameras outside a Northwest Portland store captured unique video that shows how fast a car prowler can target a vehicle and break into it.
Chown Hardware gave a copy of the video to police and also uploaded it onto YouTube, as a warning to people who leave valuables in their cars when they park downtown.
“It’s amazing how fast they get in and out,” Dave Chown told KGW.
The first video clip shows two prowlers who appear to be looking for cars to target. One man peers into the car window with a flashlight to see what’s inside. Then he calls over his buddy to take a look. The second man seems to test the window to see how hard it would be to break in.
Around 2 a.m., the pair returns. This time one of the men has a special tool which easily cuts through the window. They each grab items from the car and leave within seconds.
A third video clip shows another two-person team rolling up to the car on bicycles. One of them searches the car with a flashlight while the other stands watch.
“They find the broken window and look inside to see if anything is left for them,” Chown said.
None of the suspects have been identified or captured. Investigators are hoping someone will recognize the prowlers in the video and tip off police.
"A lot of the street level car prowl activity is directly connected to drug use and drug activity," said Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police Bureau. "So our drugs and vice division is focusing on the interdiction of drugs coming into the city to reduce the supply, and we're working on the patrol side to reduce the drug user who's stealing property to pay for that habit."
This particular break-in occurred in front of the Chown Hardware store, at 333 Northwest 16th Avenue in downtown Portland, but they can happen anywhere.
Vehicle break-ins often increase during the summer months and in Portland, the Pearl district and Lloyd District are the hardest hit, according to the latest crime numbers.
Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim yourself:
- Never leave anything valuable where someone could see it.
- Put your garage door opener inside your glove compartment and lock it.
- Hide your insurance registration card. (Crooks can get your address from the registration or insurance card and break into your home, knowing you're out of town.)