PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — At least 2 of the food carts at the Piedmont Food Cart pod in Northeast Portland were targeted by burglars who, the owners said, used drones to scout their carts.
The thieves took business checks, loose change, stickers, a first aid kit and other items, the owners said.
Hapa Howie’s owner, Kiaha Rasmussen, said she noticed things were wrong when she arrived at the cart on Tuesday morning. She checked their surveillance footage and spotted what she said was a drone followed by a man entering her cart.
“I’m shocked, angry and also mildly impressed,” said Rasmussen. “He knew exactly where he was going. He went into the back and helped himself into the cart.”
The man is seen walking away 10 minutes later, carrying tablets.
Rasmussen said the theft is a huge blow. She told KOIN 6 News she’s been broken into twice in the past 6 months.
“Being a small business owner isn’t easy,” she said. “Every setback is felt every single time. To them, it is just a tablet that they can sell but to us — during the rainy weather — that is our lifeline.”
Surveillance video shows the drone flying to different carts, hovering near locks, including the PDX Donerland truck.
Ron San Pedro, who co-owns PDX Donerland, said they heard about Hapa Howie’s and came by to check their cart — and noticed their lock was cut.
“Part of me is, wow. They were very, they thought this one out,” San Pedro told KOIN 6 News. “It just wasn’t a crime of opportunity type of thing. They were looking at businesses relatively easily.”
He said they’ve been hit 3 times in the past 6 months.
“For someone to come in, not just for us but for the entire pod — break into someone else’s cart — you’re violating a family member to us,” San Pedro said. “So it is incredibly frustrating.”
Both businesses filed police reports.
“Police can’t be here 24 hours a day,” San Pedro said. “But there has to be some sort of deterrent, especially since we are not that far from the station.”