PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – KOIN 6 Reporter Joelle Jones took a ride with an officer from the Portland Police Bureau during one of their Stolen Vehicle Operations on Friday evening.

In partnership with Gresham police and Multnomah County Deputy District Attorneys, the SVO missions are focused on getting stolen vehicles back to their owners.

Three hours in, they made their fifth arrest of the day.

With the suspect arrested in the back seat and a tow truck on the way, officer Lino Pavon said, “They keep us busy. There’s a lot of stolen cars in the community here, and for a lot of people this is the only method of transportation, so for them it’s a huge impact. So, to be able to recover this vehicle for them actually feels really good.”

Lieutenant Norman Staples said property crimes are often overlooked by the public.

“A lot of times people just dismiss property crimes or say it’s not that big of a deal, but when you’re the victim of a property crime, it’s a huge deal to you,” he said.

With the guidance of OHSU, Staples said the new data-driven approach adopted in 2022 has improved their success rate. He said they now make fewer stops and recover more stolen vehicles.

“In 22 missions – so three weeks worth of work – we’ve recovered 40 firearms, and we’ve recovered 184 stolens,” he said.

In order to be intentional about stops, Staples said the team is able to constantly evaluate the cars on the road, look for external signs that the vehicle may be stolen, observe drivers and analyze trends.

“If we can look at a car and say, ‘If you have these five or six enrichment factors, the probability of it being stolen is 60-70%.’ Then we’re going to take the time to stop that car,” he said.

Soon after, the team came upon another stolen car with potential stolen cards, contraband and a puppy.

Officer Kameron Fender said there is no coincidence that the car was a Kia.

“This is a super common stolen car,” Fender said. “In the city of Portland, a lot of this type of car is routinely stolen. So, that initially brought my intention to it.”

After noticing the driver was avoiding him, Fender said he ran the plates and discovered the Kia had been reported stolen just a day before.

He said the driver began to evade him, but the team was able to put down spike strips and deflate the tires before moving in to arrest the driver and passenger.

“To really focus on this problem that is plaguing our city and help victims recover their stolen cars…it’s a great honor,” he said.

Watch the video above to join KOIN 6 for the ride.