Three car break-ins reported since ZooLights began two weeks ago - KPTV - FOX 12

Three car break-ins reported since ZooLights began two weeks ago

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(Courtesy: Kristen Latham) (Courtesy: Kristen Latham)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A word of warning for anyone heading to the popular Christmas light display at the Oregon Zoo: Portland police say three cars have been broken into in the area since ZooLights began on November 24.

The most recent case happened Tuesday night, when Kristen Latham was visiting ZooLights with her family. She returned to the car to discover it had been broken into.

“The back window was broken out and then we noticed that the side window was broken out,” Latham told FOX 12. “I was really upset, I had my kids and my grandkids with me and there was glass everywhere and I felt like 'oh, I’ve been violated.'”

She’s a cheerleading coach and had $200 worth of gear stolen, along with her purse – which she forgot she left on the floorboards of the back seat.

Portland police confirm two other cases in recent weeks, including one in which a window was broken but nothing was taken.

“I’ve left my purse in my car a few times, but now that you’ve said this maybe I’ll be more on top of it and lock my doors, but it’s honestly something I never worry about here,” said zoo visitor Gracie Soldani.

“I might think twice about what I leave in my vehicle, in fact I’m thinking right now what I have in my vehicle, but it makes me think twice,” said Washington Park visitor Leeann Larsen.

The parking lot at the zoo is managed by the Portland Parks & Recreation department. There are roughly 1,000 spots near the zoo and a total of 1,400 in Washington park as a whole.

A spokesperson told FOX 12 park rangers do patrol the park every day, and two rangers are on duty during ZooLights, but they’re often tied up managing traffic flow.

Portable lights and extra security staff will be brought in because of the large volume of visitors to ZooLights this year, and Portland police will have extra officers in the area, too.

Signs are up in the area reminding people about leaving their cars “showroom clean” so as not to tempt thieves.

The best way people can protect themselves is to make sure they don’t leave anything inside their car. If people do get to the zoo and accidentally bring valuables with them, there are lockers to use inside the zoo gates.

Lastly, remember that this isn’t an issue unique to the zoo parking lot, but to crowded parking lots all over the city – especially during the busy holiday season.

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