PORTLAND, Ore. — A Portland man says he's on a mission to help track down stolen vehicles in his city and return them to their owners. Nick Haas has been doing it since last summer and said he's recovered 54 so far.
Haas, who owns an auto repair shop on Sandy Boulevard, showed KGW one of those recovered stolen vehicles: a Subaru currently sitting in his shop. “This is exactly how it was found," Haas said, showing some of the damage to the vehicle. "[They] broke a window to get into it."
Haas said he visits social media groups dedicated to the huge car theft problem in Portland. He makes notes of stolen vehicles online and posts ones he's found on the streets of Portland.
"This is working better than, unfortunately, police or whatever automotive theft task force they have on hand," Haas said.
The first stolen vehicle Haas recovered was a 1980 Harley Davidson. He said it was owned by a veteran and had a lot of sentimental value.
“I love it," Haas said. "I mean, that's my favorite moment, is to capture that picture of them with their vehicle and that big grin on their face, like, you know, 'it's gonna be OK.' And that makes it all worthwhile."
Haas rides his own Harley on reconnaissance missions and said he knows where to look, like along Northeast 33rd Drive near Marine Drive. On a recent visit to that area, Haas found a nice, but damaged, VW Golf.
“This is very suspect. This is very fresh too," Haas said. He runs the VIN number but the car hasn't been reported stolen.
“But you know, there's no registration in it anymore," he said, looking at the car. "There's no way to really reach out to an owner unless an officer calls them and says, 'Hey, is your car supposed to be here?' But let's face it, anybody who lives in this area, this isn't their car.”
Back at Haas' auto repair shop, the owner of the Subaru is lucky; the vehicle still runs. So they ask Haas to fix it. "We've got a new window waiting to go in it. We'll fix the ignition lock, we'll put the new window in," Haas said.
Haas said he's not into stolen car recovery for the business. He said it's about community.
"It takes a village," Haas said. "And I feel like if I can lead by example, more people will start stepping up and start doing the kind of things I’m doing and eventually these guys will realize this isn't a good idea anymore."