PORTLAND, Ore. — Who steals from a hospital?
It's a question that has been eating away at Ashleigh Sturge, at least since earlier in the week. That's when the 30-year-old Washington County woman was recovering from surgery at OHSU's Center for Health and Healing. Sturge said her husband parked the couple's car in the medical facility's garage below the South Waterfront building.
"I'm disabled so we're at hospitals all the time and I never once thought my car was in danger when I parked there," Sturge said.
But sometime between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, somebody stole Sturge's Kia Sorrento. Devastation and panic washed over Sturge, she said.
"I literally just talked to my doctors about going home that day and so it immediately jumped to how am I going to get home or to any of my follow-up appointments," she said.
While it won't make her feel any better, Sturge is not alone. Last year in Portland, more than 10,800 vehicles were stolen. That's up from approximately 9,000 in 2021 and 6,400 in 2020. These statistics put Portland near the top nationally when it comes to car thefts per 100,000 residents.
"It's greatly impacting our community," said Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Lieutenant Norman Staples, who works out of PPB's East Precinct and plays a major role in the bureau's stolen vehicle missions.
During a recent operation, officers recovered eight stolen cars and made more than a dozen arrests.
"We've had conversations with the district attorney himself and multiple senior district attorneys to address the prosecution aspect," Staples said. "And what we've done is we've started to develop a process to ensure these cases, these stolen-car cases, get prosecuted and the suspects we arrest are indicted for those crimes."
Sturge said she hopes the effort pays off. She also hopes to locate her stolen car.
"I just kind of hope it's useable," she said. "The idea of trying to buy another car sounds like a nightmare."