Commercial crimes: How not to become a victim

See what people at this Midway Business Association meeting learned about reducing crimes in, and around, their businesses …

Chiropractor Dr. David Day, President of the Midway Business Association, welcomes members and guests to the monthly meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Crime was on the minds of people at the August 13 Midway Business Association (MBA) meeting, as it got underway the Bill Dayton’s Pizza Baron Restaurant. Attendees learned which categories of offenses – and how many of them – occur in the southern area of outer East Portland – and how to prevent them.

Starting with a brief welcome, and leading off self-introductions, Midway Business Association President Dr. David Day DC asked returning Portland Police Bureau Neighborhood Response Team Officers Rob Brown and Joe Young to answer questions from the group. They agreed.

Representative Jeff Reardon (end of table) listens to the two police officers, as they talk about problems at area “homeless camps”.

“What about the problems, especially near TriMet facilities near Johnson Creek, caused by ‘homeless camps’ in the area?” asked Oregon District 48 Representative Jeff Reardon (D-Happy Valley).

“It’s been a situation we’ve been working through with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), NRT Officer Rob Brown replied. “Much of the land on either side of I-205 [where homeless camps are located] is owned by ODOT, so we need to back away from them.

“We try to keep ODOT appraised on where they have problems on their property,” Brown added. “But sometimes they’re not as responsive as they might be, getting those problems addressed quickly.”

Cammy Pierson of Curtis Trailers, at the foot of Kelly Butte on SE Powell Boulevard, just east of I-205, thanked the owners for helping them move out a homeless camp.

Area homeless camps are a continuing livability issue, say Portland Police Bureau NRT Officers Rob Brown and Joe Young.

It used to be a chronic disaster up there [on Kelly Butte], responded PPB NRT Officer Joe Young. “We’d go up with the Portland Water Bureau, and haul tons of garbage – really nasty stuff – out of there.

“When we partner with private property owners, we get something done,” Young added. “Working with property owners, like Cammy, we were able to advise campers that ‘it’s time move along’. Then, it becomes incumbent on the landowners to know if the problem is flaring up again. It will never be completely solved.”

City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention Specialist Samantha “Sam” Freeman begins her presentation.

Then City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention Specialist Samantha “Sam” Freeman began her presentation.

“I am the Crime Prevention Specialist specifically assigned your neighborhood,” Freeman said. “In my portfolio I have five different neighborhoods, most of which fall within the area of the Midway Business Association.  We’re here to help you with crime prevention concerns and questions.

“If there is a active crime in progress, call 9-1-1,” Freeman advised – “Or call the police non-emergency number, 503-823-3333 – depending on the gravity of the situation. I work with chronic problems or concerns, to try to keep crimes from happening in the future.”

Sam Freeman shows the “Top 10 Crimes” in the neighborhoods the MBA serves.

The best place to start, Freeman said, is to show current crime statistics. “Anecdotally you may be aware of some of the crimes happening in your neighborhood, or on your streets near homes or businesses.

“At the top of the list is larceny, which includes shoplifting,” Freeman pointed out. “Larceny is stealing property, but not taking it from a person – that is called a ‘robbery’.”

Freeman continued down the list, commenting on how different crimes are related. “Drug crimes are near the bottom of the list. But, those using drugs are often involved in other crimes – theft of and from vehicles, assaults, vandalism, and disorderly conduct.”

The trend, overall, is that the rate of crime being committed is generally going down in the area, Freeman said.

Concerned about crime near your home or business? Sam Freemen suggest using the free “Crime Mapper” software, provided by the City of Portland.

A tool, accessible to anyone, is online at http://www.portlandmaps.com/. Put in a street address, Freeman instructed, click the “enter” button, and look for a link at the top of the new page called “Crime Mapper” that shows crime statistics within a half-mile radius of the address.

She then urged those present to report all crimes. “The best way to prevent future crime is to pick up your phone and call it in, when you find that a crime has occurred. Use the ‘nonemergency number’ for less urgent crimes, or report those online.”

Also, call the non-emergency police number to report “suspicious activity” in the area. “This kind of call isn’t the highest priority, but officers will drive by and take a look.”

“Crime Prevention through Environmental Design” can help to naturally “take a bite out of crime”, Sam Freeman says.

Freeman wrapped up with a brief presentation “Crime Prevention through Environmental Design” – making a home or business more naturally resistant to criminal activity.

The three main components of this practice, Freeman outlined, include:

  • Natural surveillance;
  • Natural access control; and,
  • Natural territorial reinforcement.

“Providing a ‘Crime Prevention through Environmental Design’ evaluation is one of the services we offer to businesses,” Freeman concluded. “Don’t hesitate to contact me at work on weekdays. I am paid to help you – take advantage of the service!

Contact Sam Freemen at (503) 823-3505, or samantha.freeman@portlandoregon.gov.

Jim Braet of True Legends and Fun Fabrics tells how he’s found business can succeed on the Internet.

Rounding out the meeting was a presentation of MBA Board Member Jim Braet of True Legends and Fun Fabrics.

For years, Braet operated his True Legends store in Eastport Plaza, until Internet sales overtook retail sales.

Now True Legends is a totally online business, and Braet told how he keeps current with “Search Engine Optimization” techniques. “It requires constantly experimenting in tinkering and experimenting,” he said.

Apparently it works – a search for either website True Legends or Fun Fabrics shows them coming up either as the top unpaid listing, or within the top five.

“This is the key to the success of an online business,” Braet said.

The Midway Business Association meets next on September 10. Come learn about this business group dedicated to helping neighbors and businesses improve their area.

At their September meeting:  Zenger Farm Executive Director Jill Kuehler will speak about the importance of this urban farm to the community. Visitors are welcome and the presentation is free (but you pay for your own lunch). Their meeting runs from 11:45 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at Bill Dayton’s PIZZA BARON Restaurant on SE 122nd Avenue, just south of Division Street. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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