Multnomah County DA gives updates on retail, car theft task force

More than two months ago the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office launched special task forces to address retail and car thefts.
Published: Jul. 11, 2023 at 9:01 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - More than two months after the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office launched special task forces to address retail and car thefts, District Attorney Mike Schmidt touted its success thus far but said more work needs to be done at a press conference Tuesday.

Flanked by the two deputy district attorneys in charge of the two task forces, Schmidt said the number of car thefts in the county dropped by 5% between January and May of this year. However he said putting this statistic into context with the dramatic increase in car thefts since the pandemic isn’t good enough.

Deputy District Attorney Cody Linderholm, who is in charge of the car theft task force, echoed the data that shows more than 80% of cars reported stolen, are returned within 30 days. He said because of staffing increases and better training of how to fill out police reports for these crimes, prosecutions is up to 80%. Linderholm’s goal is to get that number to about 90%.

“If we can start with getting stolen vehicles off the street, I think we will see a sharp decline in a lot of other crimes, like hopefully shootings and then hopefully homicides,” Linderholm said.

When it comes to retail thefts, Schmidt said that is still a big issue. So far this year, there have been more than 10,000 reported thefts. Deputy District Attorney, Theresa Turner heads that task force. She said she’s working with retail stores and their lost prevention officers to train them on what evidence they need to help prosecutors refer charges.

“Our goal is for us to have people feel comfortable shopping in our local stores,” Turner said.

She said prosecutions of retail thefts are also up. To truly address the underlying issues of retail theft, Turner said the community needs to tackle the multitude of crises’ impacting the metro area.

“Some of the things going on in the community, some of the houselessness, some of the addiction, I think those kinds of things being addressed, mental health, all of those things that are leading people to steal,” Turner said.