It’s about time: ‘Retail Theft Missions’ net crooks, cars, and guns

Although they’ve kept a low profile while conducting such missions in outer East Portland, see what the Portland Police accomplished …

Portland Police accomplished more than just recovering shoplifted merchandise – like this recovered loot stolen from Kohl’s in the Gateway Shopping Center – they also arrested a lot of people having warrants, some of them driving stolen cars, and some with guns.

By David F. Ashton

Among their many other assignments, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct Neighborhood Response Team (NRT) officers have been conducting what they call periodic “retail theft missions” in outer East Portland.

Within the first few days of March, officers rounded up many retail thieves, as well as people engaged in other criminal activities.

During a mission at the Gateway Shopping Center, officers find a felon with a gun, ammo clips – and lots of drugs (likely fentanyl). PPB image

On March 1st the East Precinct NRT was working a retail theft mission primarily at Gateway Shopping Center. One of the individuals contacted had a Theft in the First Degree warrant from Washington County. The man, a convicted felon, was found illegally carrying a firearm, too.

Big mission on March 5

Along NE 102nd Avenue, just north of Glisan Street, a PPB officer and a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Officer met to confer.

On Sunday, March 5, PPB officers, along with deputies from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, conducted another retail theft mission at Mall 205 and ner the Gateway Shopping Center.

Around Mall 205, law enforcement focused on such stores as Target, Kohl’s, and Home Depot, with the help and cooperation of the stores’ own  loss-prevention staff.

The effort paid off promptly: Suspected criminals were arrested within the first hour of the operation.

Officers confiscate full shopping carts of stolen merchandise.

PPB NRT Officer Jordan Zaitz spoke with reporters about why they’re conducing these missions. “Right now, retail thefts are associated with our drug issues and stolen vehicle issues; all kind of combined together – and all of this is negatively affecting our community.

“We’re seeing big retailers leave [Portland]; Walmart closed two of its stores; so this is a really big deal,” Zaitz continued. “[Residents] in the greater Lents neighborhood, where a store will be closing — this is where they shop, because of their low prices and easy access. Along 82nd Avenue. Here on the southeast side, we’ve lost a lot of stores due to theft.

“For a long time, we kind of let everyone get away with it because we didn’t have the resources to actually take on [these crimes]” explained Zaitz. “And now, it’s actually good to be able to arrest people who are doing this, and hold them accountable, and get them the help that they need.”

Officers prepare to make more arrests during this mission.

That Sunday afternoon, PPB Officer Michael Terret said officers had arrested a man for shoplifting hundreds of dollars worth of clothes from the Target store in Mall 205.

And, up north in the Gateway district, officers had arrested people with more than $1,300 of stolen merchandise from Fred Meyer. Shortly thereafter, officers found a stolen car after it smashed crashed into two other vehicles on the Glisan onramp to I-205.

The result of their one-day mission:

34 arrests
28 warrants serviced
7   stolen vehicles recovered
$3,006.32 in recovered stolen merchandise

Will the result of these missions encourage other retail stores, large and small, not to close up their stores and leave? We’ll continue to monitor the situation, and we’ll see.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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