PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — What started as helping a veteran get his stolen Harley-Davidson back has turned into Nick Haas’s passion project.
On Wednesday morning Haas and local road racer Drat Diestler helped Portland Police recover a pair of stolen vehicles, a couple scooters, as well as a stolen motorcycle, from an encampment off I-5 in North Portland.
In February, Haas talked with KOIN 6 News about recovering 50 stolen vehicles over a three-month period. As of Wednesday, he has now recovered 200 vehicles and has inspired more Portlanders, like Diestler, that want to help.
“People can’t put up with (this) anymore. People are tired of this. The drug use, the theft. It’s blatant disregard for the law,” Haas said. “It’s costing hardworking citizens of Portland money and personal belongings that have substantial sentimental value. And that it just can’t go on any longer. We need to do something.”
At the encampment, there is a makeshift garage where Haas and Diestler found a stolen Miata race car and what appeared to be stolen goods, still in their original boxes. A short time later, the two men were able to flag down a Portland police officer who happened to be driving by.
“By the time we got the bike loaded up, secured, we walked down and the officer just held out a set of keys to me and said, ‘please drive this up to the parking lot. We’re going to be here a while.’ And they had a couple firearms put out on the hood of the police car. The individual was sitting there with his hands behind his back and they were digging through the camp and they said, ‘so far everything’s coming up hot,'” Haas said.
Haas and Diestler are working on getting the stolen car and motorcycle back to their rightful owners. Diestler said he began volunteering his time towards recovering stolen vehicles after his motorcycle was stolen and remains missing.
“So we went out looking and we couldn’t find my bike, but we found a couple others, and that feeling of being able to help meant a lot to me,” Diestler said. “When a motorcycle is stolen, it’s like taking a piece of your heart.”
In addition to this bust from private citizens, Portland police say they were also busy towing away 50 vehicles at another site at NE 138th and Airport Way on Wednesday.
Officers are still investigating how many are stolen but said there was a large amount of drug paraphernalia. No immediate arrests have been confirmed in either case.