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North Portland businesses demand action after 6 hit by burglars and vandals in 1 week

Half a dozen businesses in two blocks of North Williams Avenue were broken into in the last several days; exhausted owners say they have reached their limit.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Businesses on North Williams Avenue in North Portland are begging local officials for any kind of response after being hit again by vandals and burglars.

About half a dozen businesses in the 3800 and 3900 block of North Williams were attacked or broken into over the past several days.

Security footage from earlier in the week showed someone breaking into the register of Reclamation.

"I think a lot of us businesses are getting really desperate," said Lisa Stanger, owner of Blackthorn Mercantile about a block away.

Her door was smashed this weekend, the fourth break-in over the last nine months at Blackthorn.

"It's kind of the wild wild west out here, and we have to fend for ourselves," Stanger said.

Speilwerk Toys, EaT: Oyster Bar, Kayo's Ramen Bar, Vein of Gold and Grains of Wrath all got hit, too. For many, this was not the first time.

"It's a big inconvenience now," said Cody Grybko, a manager at Grains of Wrath. "The cost of it."

About a month ago, someone destroyed the glass of the bar's front door. The same thing happened again this weekend.

"It's not cheap replacing commercial doors all the time, especially in these slow months ... and with coronavirus," Grybko said.

RELATED: $1.8 million in pandemic relief money available for Beaverton small businesses still struggling

A few blocks away on North Mississippi, Larry Lydon, co-owner of Gifty Kitty, said businesses on his street have been getting hit as well. "The pandemic and the desperation people feel have driven them to do these measures," he said.

Lydon said someone failed to break into his shop Friday night while trying to pry the back doorframe apart.

Lydon said a shop next door to him, Kate's Great Plant-Based Desserts, has been hit twice before it has even opened for business.

A handwritten sign on the door is similar to many others in the neighborhood telling would-be thieves there's no cash inside.

"I think that we have a lot of disparity and a lot of addiction, a lot of mental health [issues], and it's all coming to a head right now," Stanger said. "I think that the city has just kind of abandoned us."

Business owners notes limited police resources, a growing homeless issue and disparity fueled by gentrification have all fed the vicious cycles of vandalism and burglaries.

"Help these people that are going through these issues that are causing them to do this," Grybko suggested.

"If we took care of people better, probably a lot less of this would be happening," Lydon said.

Stanger has lost tens of thousands of dollars so far from thefts and damages. 

Insurance often does not cover much of the cost anymore, she said.

"I think we're going to lose a lot of businesses," Stanger said.

RELATED: Pharmacy owner dealing with burglary in Portland after arson destroys Hillsboro location

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