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Auto Theft Is East Portland's New Hot Crime

Police ran an emergency Auto Theft Reduction effort in East Portland Monday after learning that car theft there has increased more than 40 percent over last year. Kristian Foden-Vencil reports.

The police bureau closed its auto theft task force last January — in an effort to have more officers available for 9-1-1 calls. But now,  the average number of cars stolen per day in East Portland has jumped from four to almost six. 

In response, says Officer Robert Brown, they’re handing out leaflets at stores and warning drivers that it’s not a good idea to leave your car running while making a quick visit.  

Robert Brown: “The street name for it is a steamer. And they call them that because in the colder mornings during the winter months, the cars steam, they put out exhaust while they’re warming up.”

Police say 20 percent of car thefts are crimes of opportunity. Most stolen cars are retrieved within a week, but they’re often missing parts and haven’t been driven well.

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