‘Not that hard to steal’: Car thefts spike in Portland

Crime

'A 1996 Honda Civic, someone could steal it in about 15 seconds'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Every day people come into John Yeager’s shop in Southeast Portland, Distinctive Sound, asking about anti-theft equipment for their vehicle. That’s because, on average, 30 cars are stolen every day in the city of Portland.

Car thieves strike most often in Northeast and Southeast Portland, police said. And even basic car theft prevention tactics like parking in a highly travelled and well-lit areas aren’t stopping thieves.

The customers who come into Distinctive Sound have either had their car broken into or their neighbor’s car was, Yeager told KOIN 6 News. “A car with a factory alarm system on it, it’s not that hard to steal, in reality.”

Yeager said anyone can be a victim.

“A 1996 Honda Civic, someone could steal it in about 15 seconds. You get into a newer car and it takes a few more minutes to do it,” he said. “But the technology they have access to now, just like everybody else, it just continually gets better as the cars protect themselves better.”

October 12, 2021 (KOIN)

Four years ago the most stolen vehicles in one month in Portland was 670. Last month, though, 903 vehicles were reported stolen — and Hondas remain the hot model for thieves.

“Pretty much any Honda, that’s always been a big one,” he said. “Ford pickups right now are really big.”

John Yeager of Distinctive Sound in Southeast Portland, October 12, 2021 (KOIN)

PPB statistics show that, on average, more than one car has been stolen every hour in the past 3 months.

Yeager said there are cost effective ways to protect your vehicle.

“I would start out with just a starting alarm where it’s going to monitor the door triggers of your car and have a starter kill,” he said.

Alarm systems can typically be installed in most cars in about 2 hours and start at about $250 for the equipment and labor. There are other options, including a device that has GPS tracking.

“I have it on my truck and my wife’s car,” he said.

There’s also a device called a kill switch that starts around $65. “They’re foolproof as long as they’re well-hidden and whoever’s stealing your car doesn’t know where it is.”

Police officials said that so far this year about 88% of the stolen cars have been recovered. But that means hundreds of cars are never again seen by their rightful owner.

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said they have an 11-person unit handling these crimes with anywhere between 30-50 car theft cases on their desk.

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