PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After visiting family in Missouri last month, one couple flew back to PDX for a terrible homecoming. Their 2018 Kia Optima – once parked in the airport’s Red Lot – was nowhere to be found.

Brandon McCaskey and his girlfriend Victoria Beaudry told KOIN 6 they got off the plane, picked up their bags and walked out to where their car should have been. When they decided to use the call box, the man on the other line said, “Hey, looks like your car was stolen.”

“I was in shock to be honest, because you know, here we are coming in late at night, too. We came home maybe at 11 p.m., so we just want to get home,” McCaskey said.

Beaudry said the pair instantly had several questions.

“’How are we gonna get home?,’ first of all. And of course, like, ‘How did this happen?’ You know, you pay for a lot, and you have to go through a gate, and have the ticket. How did they get the car out without a ticket or anything?”

The couple told KOIN 6 that the Port of Portland sent an officer to file a report, but provided little explanation as to how the car was stolen.

After catching a Lyft home and sharing a vehicle for a week, McCaskey said Wilsonville police found his Kia at a Target early last week with a broken window, a busted engine and drugs inside.

“They considered it a total loss,” he said.

KOIN 6 reached out to the Port of Portland to see how many vehicles are stolen from their lots. In a statement, they said: “A total of 32 vehicles were reported stolen at the Port of Portland in the first two months of 2023, with 16 vehicles stolen in both January and February. …We will continue to prioritize the security of travelers’ vehicles and work diligently to prevent car theft incidents at PDX.”

The agency also compared their rates of stolen cars to city data, saying the car theft rate at Port of Portland is lower than the City of Portland as a whole.

“Well, of course it’s going to be lower,” McCaskey said. “I mean, it’s a whole city versus an airport. You know, it’s kind of a weird comparison for them to make.”

But Port of Portland told KOIN 6 they are taking steps to help combat car theft, including increased patrols in parking areas with both uniformed and undercover officers, undercover missions to target organized car theft, and collaboration with law enforcement to share information and prevent organized theft rings.

But McCaskey and Beaudry say more needs to be done to keep cars secure as people travel.

“You can’t leave a gate unattended. You know, there has to be someone there,” McCaskey said. “So if they see something weird, you can call the police and say, ‘Hey, something’s going on.’ I don’t think there’s any excuse with how much money they make off the parking lot to not hire somebody to do that.”

Beaudry agrees.

“It’s not just one person. It’s a bunch of people doing this. Maybe get to the bottom of who’s doing this and how we can stop it from going further.”

In the meantime, Port of Portland offers these tips to keep your car safe from theft at the airport:

  • Always lock your vehicle and close all windows when leaving it unattended.
  • Do not leave valuable items in plain sight inside your vehicle, as it may attract thieves.
  • Install alarms, immobilizers and tracking devices to deter thieves.
  • Do not leave keys, garage door openers or documents with personal information inside of your vehicle.