Police target serial shoplifters frustrating business owners - KPTV - FOX 12

Police target serial shoplifters frustrating business owners

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As business owners say property crime continues to rise in Portland, police are going door to door working with some of those small businesses to keep burglars, vandals and shoplifters off the streets.

Deborah Haynes, owner of Blush Beauty Bar in northwest Portland says her employees should only have one main job helping customers but lately they’re tasked with looking out for shoplifters too.

“You’re talking anywhere from you know $400 to about a couple thousand a month.  So it’s painful. It definitely is impacting our business for sure,” Haynes said.

Haynes says sometimes a shoplifter strikes and she never sees or hears from them again.   Then there’s people like accused serial shoplifter, Kacey Harris

“It’s just really sad with how many run-ins we’ve had with this particular individual. And you know, she’s obviously mentally ill and needs some help and you know, I think most of us want her to get help. You know, we’re kind of tired of dealing with the career criminals,” Haynes said.

Harris is accused of hitting dozens of businesses in Portland.

Haynes said, “She’s really fast so if you don’t realize when she comes then she’ll get you.”

At Metro Boutique on Hawthorne manager Kylynn Mills says she’s come in a few times before trying to take anything she could get her hands on. 

“But I know there’s other people who work on Hawthorne who she slapped she spit on and you know that’s becoming dangerous and it seems to only be getting worse as time goes on with her,” Mills said.

Then at Pearl Fiber Arts in the Pearl District, owner Cindy Abernethy says Harris has stolen from her once but tried to come back two other times.

“People like Kasey and there’s a whole slew of other people that have rap sheet a mile long I mean you can look them up online every month they’re getting arrested for doing the same thing,” Abernethy said.

The manager at Craft Warehouse in Beaverton says she’s all too familiar with Harris.

“She had a lot of jars and I think stamps.. just a lot of things like a pillowcase so it’s like none of it made sense. It was just like whatever she could grab and hide in the flowers, she took,” the manager said.

“Some of the newer things I’ve been doing is reaching out to some of our retailers and our businesses with some different means, social media, we’ve done a lot of walking beats where I get out on foot and just talk to the business so owners and generate a lot of dialogue that way,” Officer Mathew Jacobsen with the Central Neighborhood Response Team said.

Jacobsen says, he’s been able to look into people like Melvin Tillman, a man arrested in February, accused of throwing rocks through shop doors and stealing cash registers.

“So that was kind of the foundation for starting the conversation about chronic and ongoing issues that they’re dealing with,” Jacobsen said.

Now he says he’s looking into Harris.

“Over the last couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity through other investigations and some outreach to really start having conversations with our downtown and southeast businesses and um through those conversations, her name came up pretty regularly to the point where I started looking into how much contact police have had with her,” Jacobsen said.

Officer Jacobson says that contact is a lot.  He’s been able to partner with Nathan Vasquez, senior Deputy District Attorney with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office.

Vasquez says he couldn’t comment on the current investigation into Harris but he did talk about the importance of reporting everything to police.

“Because even though it may be a small issue at the time for them, maybe it’s just that $10 shoplift case it is important to follow through because it may be $10 here one day and then $100 the next day and then $1000 for their next-door neighbor,” Vasquez said.

In the end  business owners say this about the recent spike in crime they’re seeing but you know, it’s a lot to ask of business owners and of your employees to fight crime.

“Business owners are not trying to point the finger or trying to take people down and punish them and what not you know again we went to see them get help,” Vasquez said.

Harris was actually arrested on Thursday and is facing burglary and assault charges from a March incident.

Police ask if you’ve had any run-ins with her and haven’t reported them to call them.

The investigation into her is still ongoing.

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