PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s a story becoming all too common – a Portland small business robbed of thousands of dollars by crooks, all seen on surveillance video. The owner is an immigrant who came to the U.S. and says she worked her way up for a better life for herself and her children.

Moving to Portland decades ago from South Korea, Kim – who asked that her last name not be shared for safety reasons – was a single mom at the time and worked many jobs before taking over The Perch Tavern in 2006 to make that happen. She was also in the middle of 28 years working at TriMet when she took on the North Portland bar.

The interior of the Perch Tavern, a small business in North Portland that was robbed of thousands on September 10, 2023.

“Even when I worked for TriMet, I always had small businesses or 2 jobs or 3 jobs,” Kim said. “We did all the hard work, saved money, and I was able to start this business in 2006.”

On Sunday, Sept. 10, much of that hard work came crashing down. Portland Police say just after 11 a.m. as a bartender came in to open up, a man with a machete walked in and threatened her, before robbing them.

“The first thing I asked her, ‘are you okay?’ She said, ‘I’m okay but he grabbed my phone and my ID and he’s telling me if I call the police, he knows where I live so he’s going to come kill me,'” Kim recalled.

Surveillance video captures the suspect with the weapon, wearing a bucket hat and carrying a black backpack, forcing her inside, as he placed her in a headlock and over toward the cash register. Other images show what appears to be a different person right inside the entrance. Police say the main suspect is a white man with three dots on his face and a clock tattooed on the outside of his left hand.

“In the past, when we had a similar situation in 2017, they only took money from the cash register,” Kim said. “This time, I was hoping that was the case, that we would only lose around $3,000.”

Surveillance footage from the Perch Tavern shows the robber having placed the bartender in a headlock and over toward the cash register on September 10, 2023.

Because they were delayed in getting money to the bank, they had a combination of Friday and Saturday revenue, petty cash, and extra on-hand for lottery machine payouts, in all, totaling more than $50,000.

“We usually don’t have that much money but different circumstances, we didn’t take the money to the bank Friday and Saturday,” Kim said. “Hopefully they can catch these people.”

Oregon Lottery says while businesses aren’t required to keep a specific amount on-hand, they do need to be able to pay players immediately up to $1,250 for video lottery and $600 for Keno or scratch-its. In a statement to KOIN 6, a representative said, “If a retailer is the victim of a crime, Oregon Lottery will assist with insurance claims and work with Oregon State Police if there’s an open investigation.”

Some businesses told KOIN 6 in the past that they felt they were targeted because of the cash on-site for lottery. Kim says she’s hopeful the suspects will be caught, but worries about the continued crime plaguing the city.

“As a small business owner, at this moment, with the crimes going in the city, we felt we are not protected,” Kim said. “I invite my friends and family members to come see us but in these days I can’t do that. I feel less safe.”

Friends are helping fundraise for Kim and her husband’s business The Perch Tavern, to try to cover anything insurance doesn’t, as well as trying to get security on-site, as they hope to keep the business going.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Det. Hilary Scott at hilary.scott@police.portlandoregon.gov with reference number #23-238622.