PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) – On Wednesday, at Jantzen Beach Moorage, razor wire is haphazardly wrapped around gaping holes in the fence where plastic planks have been cut up by thieves seeking access to the secure parking lot.
âWe put up barriers, we hired security companies, but they just went through there and cut everything, just to get in, steal stuff, cut catalytic converters, whatever,â said Ron Schmidt, who lives in a barge off Hayden Island.
Nearby business owners are also expressing frustration with what has quickly become an endless battle against crime.
âThe door is open during the day and we caught someone two weeks ago trying to cut a catalytic converter on one of our customers’ vehicles,â said Jess Heitman, owner of Woodstock Motorsports .
This is just one example of the crime that Heitman says has spiraled out of control, with no repercussions, and often with no response from the police.
âWe just see an absolute problem with lawlessness,â Heitman said. âThere is no consequence. These people can do whatever they want.
That’s why Schmidt, who is the president of the Waterfront Organization of Oregon, recently sent a letter to city and county commissioners as well as the Multnomah County District Attorney, asking local leaders to direct the excess funds to the Portland Police Office.
The police bureau’s budget has been cut twice since last year, when the police murder of George Floyd sparked massive protests across the country, including in Portland.
Schmidt said Jantzen Beach Moorage used a private security company to patrol the area just under a year ago, after first making other security improvements to the property.
Former Portland Police Commander Mike Leloff is now director of operations for United Security’s Oregon office.
His team manages security at Jantzen Beach Moorage, as well as several other areas of Portland.
âCustomers experience high levels of crime and a slow response from an understaffed police department, so they try to fill the gaps with their own money, their own profits,â Leloff said.
It’s a busy time to be in the private security industry and Leloff said his team has already made a big difference at anchor.
âWe’ve reduced two to three instances per week, down to two or three per month now,â Leloff said.
âWe use proactive approaches to try to prevent this from happening,â Leloff added. “We are trying to prevent entry, trying to prevent theft, by doing this through technology through human solutions.”
But hiring your own security doesn’t come cheap, and Schmidt said he feels for the neighbors and the mom-and-pop stores who he says are lonely and helpless.
âI hope there is a good reason why they are committing these crimes, but we still have the laws in place in our society for the good of the majority of people,â Schmidt said.
Over the summer, neighbors of Hayden Island came together to form the Hayden Island Community Safety Initiative, with the goal of collecting, analyzing and reporting crime data.
The group is also considering forming their own enhanced service district separate from the city of Portland.
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