PORTLAND, Ore. — November was the worst month for car thefts in the city of Portland since police began publishing monthly data back in 2015.
Last month, 1,140 vehicles were reported stolen, according to data from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB).
So far, there have been 8,024 car thefts reported this year — a 36% increase over the same time period in 2020.
That means 2021 is likely to be the worst year for car thefts since 1995, when police tallied 9,310 motor vehicle thefts.
The data offers some insight into where and when cars are stolen and which models are snatched — as well as how often vehicles are recovered.
Note: Official motor vehicle theft data includes attempted thefts and reports with incomplete vehicle info, whereas the stolen vehicle dashboard does not. So far, there have been 8,150 motor vehicle thefts this year when attempted thefts and incomplete reports are included.
The following article uses data from the stolen vehicle dashboard.
Which cars are stolen?
Almost 70% of the cars reported stolen this year were made by five companies: Honda, Ford, Subaru, Toyota and Chevrolet.
However, it's hard to say whether a particular make or model is more likely to be stolen than another, since ownership rates are not taken into account.
Approximately 22% of Portland's stolen vehicles were made by Honda. Of those, 33% were Honda Civics, CRXs, or Del Sols.
These are the ten most common models stolen:
1. Honda Civic, CRX, Del Sol: 591
2. Honda CRV: 516
3. Honda Accord, Accord Crosstour: 455
4. Subaru Legacy, Legacy GL, Outback Legacy: 415
5. Ford F250: 346
6. Subaru Forrester: 333
7. Subaru Impreza, Outback Impreza, WRX: 209
8. Ford F350: 200
9. Toyota Camry: 146
10. Nissan Truck: 135
Cars made between 1997 and 2001 were the most common model years for stolen vehicles, accounting for more than 30% of this year's reported thefts. Car models from 2010 to 2022 account for 23% of stolen vehicle reports.
Again, it's difficult to determine whether a specific model year is more likely to be stolen because ownership rates vary significantly.
Where are cars stolen?
Of the 95 neighborhoods in Portland, ten account for approximately 30% of this year's reported car thefts. Neighborhoods in Northeast and Southeast Portland had more vehicles stolen than other parts of the city, data shows.
Here are the number of thefts reported for the top ten neighborhoods:
1. Hazelwood: 415
2. Lents: 296
3. Parkrose: 253
4. Montavilla: 238
5. Powellhurst-Gilbert: 236
6. Northwest: 223
7. Centennial: 207
8. Cully: 195
9. Hayden Island: 175
10. St. Johns: 166
Note: An additional 175 stolen cars were not reported in a specific neighborhood.
Downtown Portland has also seen an uptick in car thefts. There have been 152 vehicles reported stolen so far this year. At the current rate, downtown car thefts will surpass 2020's total by 30%. The city's urban core ranks 14th on the list of most common car theft neighborhoods.
When are cars stolen?
Car theft victims are most likely to have their vehicles stolen between 6 p.m. and midnight — 41% of this year's car thefts are believed to have occurred between those hours. Exact timing can be hard to determine since many victims don't realize their car is stolen until long after it's gone.
Police report the time of day based on the earliest time the victim believes their car could have been stolen.
The day of the week appears to make almost no difference to car thieves, although Fridays are slightly overrepresented in the data.
How often are stolen vehicles found?
Portland police acknowledge that car thefts are a major problem but said that current resources are being directed toward more urgent safety problems, like the city's record homicide total.
"While having a car stolen is incredibly disruptive to their lives, it doesn't fall under a life safety issue," Sgt. Kevin Allen told KGW in October.
Data suggests police recover the vast majority of cars that are reported stolen. This year, 78% of stolen vehicles have been recovered within 30 days. 89% of cars stolen this year have been recovered to date.
In October, police recovered 44 stolen cars over the course of three days.
While victims may have a good chance of getting their vehicle back, that doesn't mean cars are returned in the same condition as they were left. It's not uncommon for victims to find their cars vandalized or filled with illegal contraband.
How to prevent car thefts
So how can you prevent your car from being stolen? Here are a few tips from the Portland Police Bureau:
- Don't leave valuables, or anything that could be mistaken as valuable, in the car.
- Try to park in well-traveled areas that are visible to those walking by.
- Install anti-theft license plate fasteners.
- Park in a locked garage when possible, especially at night. If that's not possible, park in a well lit area.
Melanie Blais recently had her 2001 Chevy Silverado stolen in the Eliot neighborhood in North Portland. She's been looking for it ever since.
"My truck got stolen on Sunday, November 14th — we went to watch a football game, came back to the house, parked the truck near the apartment and the next day when my partner went to leave for work the truck was gone," Blais said.
And her loss likely isn't included in the police dashboard. That's because she hasn't been able to report the vehicle stolen since the title hadn't been transferred to her name.
So Blais took matters into her own hands and has been biking around looking for the truck. A friend of hers claims she saw two people driving the truck on MLK and Lombard but they drove away quickly.
"It's just super selfish and inconsiderate," Blais said. "I hope when I find my truck, I don't have to fight for my truck."