PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As Portland has seen an overall increase in stolen vehicles, KOIN 6 News is digging deeper to find what happens to abandoned vehicles after the city cleans homeless camps, and how police are responding to stolen cars around the city.

KOIN 6 News took video Monday of what appears to be abandoned cars in North Portland near North Whittaker Road. In September, the city cleaned a homeless camp here, but since there were no visible plates or VINs on these cars, KOIN 6 News was unable to determine who they belonged to or if they were ever reported missing.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation said if the Impact Reduction Program contacts them about an abandoned car at a camp, they tag the vehicle saying it may be towed.

If the owner does not come for it, then they tow it. They said they notify police, who will start an investigation, if they believe it is stolen.

Police said they also sometimes go into a camp if they believe there are stolen cars there.

“There certainly has been times when we’ve gotten tips or information that there has been a stolen car operation. An illegal, criminal organization going on in a camp, so, in those cases, we’ve gotten officers together and in some cases parking patrol folks together, and we’ve partnered up and gone in there together,” PPB Sgt. Kevin Allen said.

PPB also noted certainly not all abandoned cars are stolen in homeless camps or otherwise.

PPB Sgt. Kevin Allen also explained how police staffing shortages affect how authorities look into these cases.

“I don’t think we’ve seen any appreciable improvement. Frankly, the efforts we’ve done aren’t near enough to make much of a difference. That’s the unfortunate reality. We want to make an effort when we can. But we’re at a situation in our staffing, when we take our resources to do this mission, it takes away resources to answer 911 calls,” Sgt. Allen said.

PBOT also points out that towing cars from homeless camps accounts for a small percentage of the cars they tow city wide.