PORTLAND, Ore. – Frustrated business owners are calling on city and county leaders to do more to combat rising property crime in Portland — and they have plenty of suggestions for where to start.
“A lot of the ‘professional criminals’ that are out there hitting businesses and wreaking havoc, really, we need to catch those people and we need to prosecute those people,” said Sarah Shaoul, a business coach and founder of the advocacy group Bricks Need Mortar.
PORTLAND BUSINESS OWNERS FALL ‘MAKE OR BREAK’ HOLIDAYS AS POST-PANDEMIC, BROADCASTING CRIME TACKLES
Property crime in Portland rose 16% between January and October of this year compared to the same period in 2021, according to data from the Portland Police Bureau.
Shaoul acknowledged the lack of public defenders in Multnomah County, which has resulted in hundreds of cases being dropped. But she said she is fed up with “opportunistic criminals” brazenly vandalizing and looting businesses.
“When someone has been caught on camera over a dozen times backing their vehicle into a business, I think it’s time we do something about it,” she said.
Between the pandemic, riots, rising crime and the ever-present homelessness crisis, entrepreneurs are fighting an uphill battle to stay in business, said Katherine Sealy, owner of Event Cosmetics.
“Safety is a priority for everyone,” she said. “And I think a lot of the surrounding areas … still feel unsafe to come downtown.”
CONFIDENT PORTLAND BUSINESS OWNERS OFFER SOLUTIONS TO INCREASE CRIME:
SEE MORE FOX NEWS DIGITAL ORIGINALS HERE
While Portland’s historic social justice protests gave the city an anti-police reputation, Sealy, Shaoul and other business owners and residents said they would like to see more law enforcement officers out and about.
“We would like to see a greater police presence in protecting our small storefront business,” Shaoul said. “And we would like to see the police show up in a timely manner to these calls and these burglaries.”
Police response times have reached levels not seen in at least a decade, according to PPB data, with the average high-priority call waiting more than 20 minutes for an answer in October. Medium priority callers waited an average of more than 51 minutes during the same month.
Many factors can affect response times, including travel time, number of calls and staffing levels, which are slowly increasing, according to PPB.
“If the police are not available, I think the city needs to look at other resources to help,” Shaoul said. “We made a recommendation over a year ago to have patrols shining lights on buildings.”
Shaoul suggested the city use other departments for such patrols, such as the Portland Bureau of Transportation, which handles street maintenance, parking enforcement and other services.
“Let’s get them out there with big lights on the sides of their vehicles and let’s get them driving around,” she said. “A lot of it is just preventative. You know, just keeping an eye on these businesses and keeping them from repeatedly coming in.”
A clothing store closed for good this year after suffering its 15th break-in, posting a note on its door that read: “Our city is at risk. Small (and large) businesses cannot support what business, in the current state of our city. We have no defense or recourse against criminal behavior that goes unpunished.”
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Sealy said she has seen many of her other business owners “close their doors for good” and hopes more won’t have to follow suit in the new year.
“I think the city needs to partner with us to do this, to make sure it’s not just a one-way effort,” Sealy said.
To watch the interview with Shaoul and Sealy, click here.
Leave a Reply