PORTLAND, Ore. – Two Southeast Portland neighborhood associations are asking the city of Portland to do more to fight tire vandalism.
In a letter to Mayor Charlie Hales and Portland Police Chief Michael Reese, The Hosford-Abernathy and Richmond neighborhood associations asked the city to increase police patrols there and increase the Crime Stoppers reward from $1,000 to $5,000 or $10,000.
Residents in both neighborhoods have reported punctured tires, with some being victimized more than once. The problem, the letter says, has been happening all over Southeast and Northeast Portland. “The vandals are puncturing tire sidewalls, so the tire cannot be repaired,” according to the letter.
Katherine Anderson, a crime specialist with the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI), estimated the total damage to all vehicles at $500,000. Portland police estimate the damage to be between at least $300,000.
Sgt. Pete Simpson said the tire puncturing cases began appearing around Portland back in May. The total number of cases is 539 as of Oct. 19.
Forty-seven people also reported acts of vandalism to convertible soft tops since late August. Others reported their vehicles were keyed starting in mid-September.
"The vandal or vandals appear to be primarily targeting SUVs (both large and small crossover-style), trucks and vans parked in the street and are puncturing a tire. Some victims have been hit multiple times," said Simpson in a news release.
Investigators do not know if all of these cases are related, Simpson said. Police do not have any suspect information.
Some neighbors are taking matters into their own hands by using sheet metal to protect their tires. Others installed security cameras at their homes.
"Lately all I've been catching are neighbors. People going to parties next door, people walking down the street," said Milton Hoch.
KATU spoke with private investigator John Stevens and asked him what he would do, if anything, once everything comes up dry in the case.
"Well, I don't know. Police and investigators are not magicians. They do the best they can. Sometimes these things surface on their own. Somebody will just give it up," Stevens said.
Stevens says some clues could come from social media.
Anyone who sees someone vandalizing a vehicle is asked to call 911. Anyone who discovers their vehicle has been damaged is asked to call the police non-emergency line at 503-823-3333.
KATU's Dan Cassuto contributed to this story.