Could empty streets mean bolder burglars?

Crime

Portland Police said there has been an uptick in calls, arrests

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A burglar broke into a popular iPhone repair shop in Southeast Portland over the weekend and made off with cash and equipment. The incident was recorded by the store’s security cameras.

Portland Police were quick to respond to the burglary on Southeast Hawthorne around midnight on Friday, and even chased the suspect, which forced him to drop most of the stolen gear. But the suspect ultimately got away.

“They were out immediately in full force, with canine units,” said iChihuahua Repair owner Ben Kirsch.

Security footage of a burglary suspect in iChihuahua Repair on SE Hawthorne Street in Portland. Friday, May 1, 2020 (Courtesy iChihuahua Repair)

Kirsch believes that the suspect who was caught on camera on Friday was also seen at the shop earlier in the week, trying to get inside. During the first incident, the suspect only succeeded in damaging the door. On Friday, the suspect was actually able to break into the store. He threw a crowbar through the glass door. Kirsh said his security system sounded the alarm and police were called.

Since all of the customer phones were locked up, the thief was only able to grab some of the store’s display products. Kirsch said police showed up 20 seconds later, spotted him, and tried to chase him down. Officers later returned the stolen equipment.

Kirsch said because everything in the area is closed, there are fewer people out and about—he feels that it has made criminals much bolder.

“There is just less going on,” said Kirsch. “This incident occurred at midnight on a Friday night. Under normal circumstances, this entire block would be packed with our patrons and people out and about, having fun, hanging out, and not a good situation for a burglar.”

Statistics from the Portland Police Bureau seem to side with Kirsch’s suspicions.

Security footage of a suspect leaving iChihuahua Repair on SE Hawthorne Street in Portland around midnight on Friday, May 1, 2020 (Courtesy iChihuahua Repair)

“We are seeing about two more calls per day compared to the same time frame in 2019,” said Portland Police Chief Jami Resch at a press conference last week. “We have seen an uptick, but officers on the street are doing a good job apprehending those people.”

Arrests have increased as well. Resch said in the last eight weeks—from March through early April—the bureau was averaging around three to 11 arrests a week, and during the week of April 19th, they made around 17.

“The positive note is that we are making more arrests,” said Resch.

“What that tells me is the Portland police is looking out for small businesses and is aware that is a heavier issue than normal,” said Kirsch.

Kirsch said he doesn’t think this behavior is going to end any time soon, and anticipates that criminals will continue to take advantage of the quiet streets. His advice to small, local businesses: make sure that your security systems are in working order.

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