SW Portland business owners frustrated with repeated theft

Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Brazen burglars have been seen stealing safes and money from cash registers in the Pearl District, but these business owners aren’t alone as small businesses are being hit in Southwest Portland too.

Two business owners that have been in Portland for decades said the past year and a half feels like one punch after the next.

Small business owner, Helen Johnson, has worked hard to run her family diner, Fat City Cafe, in Multnomah Village for more than two decades.

For the first time in all those years, her restaurant was burglarized in the middle of the night this past week. The thief took a couple hundred dollars and forced the owners to spend money to change all their locks.

Johnson said it hurts.

“It’s not so much about the money that was in the register or the till — it’s the violation,” Johnson said. “Are they watching us, do they know when we leave?”

That sense of uncertainty and worry is a feeling Casey Edwards knows all too well.

His small business is just five minutes up the road from the cafe. Not even the barbed wire he installed is keeping these burglars away.

“They straight up just cut right through the fence,” Edwards said.

He said his business has been burglarized a dozen times this year alone, costing the business upwards of $15,000 in stolen property.

“It sucks to have to sign away your $50,000 property tax and you can’t even get an officer to show up and look  at the the damage that’s happened,” Edwards said.

Portland Police records show reports of burglaries in the city have fluctuated since 2015, with a recent spike in the last couple of years.

The burglary rate in Portland from September 2015 to September 2021. (KOIN)

Police have said they are focusing their efforts on the soaring homicide rates, leaving burglaries behind.

Authorities said the property crimes unit only has a handful of officers and that they can only pursue a small fraction of the thousands of cases coming their way.

This has small businesses feeling like they have to fend for themselves.

“I just want everyone to button up – keep a look out and keep everything locked up because they’re here,” Johnson said.

KOIN 6 reached out to the Mayor’s Office about these crime and in response his office said he’s meeting with neighborhood associations and business owners three days this week to hear from them and address these ongoing issues.

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