PORTLAND, Ore. — A Multnomah County judge sentenced one of Portland’s most prolific shoplifters, Barry Sanders, to four years in prison. Detectives nicknamed Sanders the “Hamburglar” after catching him stealing meat and seafood from Portland-area stores.
“He will never change,” warned Kevin Demer, Multnomah County senior deputy district attorney. “We build prisons for people like him.”
Sanders, 60, pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge after allegedly shoplifting from Fred Meyer in 2021. He also admitted violating probation after agreeing to stay out of stores he stole from including Fred Meyer, Safeway, Target, WinCo and Home Depot.
Previously, Sanders admitted in court papers to being a "talented, professional thief" who has shoplifted more than 1,000 times from Portland-area stores.
“The only time he’s not committing crime is when he’s in prison,” said Demer.
A KGW investigation in 2017 found retailers and police frustrated by a flawed system that allows shoplifters to reoffend without facing serious consequences. Sanders’ criminal history helped to illustrate the problem.
“I know the law. I know the rules. I know what I can and can’t do,” Sanders told a Portland police detective during a videotaped interview in 2016. “Every time I get out of prison, I steal.”
The Multnomah County prosecutor read letters from retailers Fred Meyer and Albertsons/Safeway during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.
“The impact of Sanders’ theft reaches far beyond the accounting ledgers of Safeway and Albertson’s,” wrote Rick Osowick, organized retail crime manager for Albertsons/Safeway. “Sanders hurts our employees whose hours and wages depend on the store being profitable and Sanders hurts the community at large directly causing higher prices — a reflection of retailers having to cover the costs of Sanders’ rampant theft.”
Sanders blamed his shoplifting on a drug addiction. “I’m not violent. I suffer from addiction,” Sanders told the judge.
A Multnomah County probation supervisor testified Sanders recently walked away from a drug treatment program.
“There are lot of addicts on the street that don’t steal from other people,” explained Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Skye before sentencing Sanders to four years in prison.