PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Out of the approximately 11,500 cars stolen last year in Portland, police say that about 90% have been recovered. However, those vehicles often aren’t safe to drive.

Oftentimes, the thief or thieves lived in the vehicle, leaving behind junk and dirty clothes — as well as blood and needles from drug use.

According to Tom Rennie, owner of Autobella, a Portland company that does biohazard cleanup on cars, they’re sanitizing about 60 recovered cars every month.

“We find purses, wallets with IDs in them, credit cards, all of that stuff belong to other people, probably came out of other cars,” Rennie said. “You don’t know what went on in that car.”

Rennie says they often recover high-priced stolen items and even stolen guns.

His company removes unseen illicit drug residues. However, when it comes to fentanyl and meth, Rennie says it’s nearly impossible to decontaminate the lethal residues, so the car should be considered totaled.

The latest numbers from PPB show 850 cars were reported stolen in May. That number is slightly down from April.

Rennie believes the numbers are much higher because he says he has many clients that don’t report when their car has been stolen.

Peter Clover at Mobile West in Northeast Portland has been installing car alarms for three decades. He says the business has had four to five car owners per day ordering an alarm system. He started noticing the uptick just before the COVID-19 shutdowns.

“When the economy tanks people get desperate and they do bad things and so the least of us are really struggling,” Clover said.

Clover said thieves aren’t deterred by factory alarms and the best way to protect your car is to install an alarm that immobilizes the engine.

“Let’s prevent it from happening to begin with a little blinking blue light that’s not factory that lights up the car at night from half a block away or more, thieves just keep walking because it’s no longer an easy target,” he said.

Mobile West also installs sensors that alert you if someone tries stealing your vehicle’s catalytic converter.