North Portland small business struggling against crime

Employees at one North Portland business say they have had enough of increasing crime rates over the years.
Published: Aug. 4, 2023 at 10:49 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Employees at one North Portland business say they have had enough of increasing crime rates over the years.

They expressed they feel like they have no voice and reached out to us, in hopes their frustrations would be heard.

Jennyfer’s Boutique is a minority-run store that’s been operating in North Portland for the last six years.

“Portland is havoc right now,” the storeowner’s son, Cesar Rojas said. “Crime ridden. People are stealing. People are hurting each other.  Stores are boarded up. It feels nothing like home. It’s almost unrecognizable. Something has to change.”

Rojas said that he’s a family man and wants people to feel that energy when they walk into the store.

“We want people to have fun when they walk in here and feel safe,” he said.

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Instead, however, he said that over the past several years increasing crime rates have led he and his family to experience the opposite.

We feed ourselves from the money coming from this boutique,” Rojas said, “and sometimes we can’t make ends meet. It really sucks.”

Over the last several days, Rojas said there have been several thefts. They were captured on camera.

“It’s out of control,” he said.

During one of the crimes, video shows an employee running up to the suspected thief, snapping pictures and calling the police.

“He said ‘there’s no one on dispatch right now,’” Rojas recalled. “‘There’s no one able to come. I’m sorry.’”

Rojas said he doesn’t discredit the work police do but claims there aren’t enough officers around to police the community properly. That belief makes him feel as though he’s not protected.

“We’re all sick of it,” Rojas said. “Every day it’s a new thing. Oh, this guy stole from the store. Oh, this guy broke in last night. It’s all the same thing.”

Rojas explained that he feels like he has tried everything to deter crime, including implementing a ‘knock to enter’ policy to identify potentially risky customers.

See Also: 10 arrested during North Portland retail theft operation

“We don’t like to discriminate,” he said, “but we’re at the point where ‘if this guy is looking a little sketchy or homeless,’ we might think twice about opening the door to prevent something bad from happening.”

Rojas said his sister once confronted who she believed was a thief in the past, only to be shoved to the ground. That’s an act that scares him, because now he’s concerned for the worst when he gets a phone call in the middle of the day.

“Your heart drops,” he said. “Like, ‘what happened this time?’ You’re already expecting something bad to happen. I don’t know how we should do it, but something has to change.”

Rojas estimated that upwards of $10,000 has been stolen over the last half year or so.

Due to the thefts, he said his family has had no choice but to consider boarding up the windows or closing altogether.