Target says 3 Portland stores closing due to crime; Police records don’t match up

Target said it's closing three Portland stores because of crime, but FOX 12 found police dispatch numbers don't support Target’s stated reasoning.
Published: Oct. 19, 2023 at 8:50 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Three Portland Target stores will close Saturday. When the company announced the closures last month, they said it was because of crime.

“We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance,” Target said in the announcement.

In a retail industry facing volatile times - from e-commerce to inflation - losing inventory to theft can hurt the bottom line.

But when the FOX 12 Investigates team looked at police dispatch data from stores around Portland, the numbers don’t support Target’s stated reasoning.

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According to dispatch data from six Target locations around Portland, every store remaining open had higher property crime rates - including burglary, theft and robbery - than the stores slated to close.

When expanding the considered data to all police dispatches, the rate of crime still didn’t support the company’s reasoning.

This trend isn’t just in Portland.

In Seattle, where two stores are closing, the Seattle Times found that the locations with the most calls for police were staying open. And an investigation by Business Insider found crime data also didn’t line up with planned store closures in San Francisco and New York.

Target declined multiple requests from FOX 12 for comment on these findings, and the company does not make data about theft at stores publicly available.

Back in Portland, Andrew Hoan, president and CEO of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, is frustrated with the narrative businesses are running away from Portland because of crime.

“You see these large national chains and employers making announcements like this,” Hoan said. “And, you know, we’re part of a bigger repositioning - this happened with Walmart.”

Hoan said the store closures are not new and are because of bigger economic considerations than just crime.

“It’s part of the conversation,” Hoan said. “Public safety is part of the conversation. But what it does is feed into a national narrative that there is an issue here in Portland is much worse than our neighbors or our peers, and we know that isn’t true.”

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The impact to the community goes beyond losing a place to shop. Across the three stores, 158 employees will lose their jobs.

“To lose an anchor business like a Target, that serves a neighborhood that has people living there, is extremely challenging and frustrating,” Hoan said. “And it does not help the reputation of Portland to lose stores, to lose employers, to lose jobs, and to lose a neighborhood amenity like that.”

Hoan said crime in downtown Portland has been a challenge and needs to be addressed. But he says there is a bigger picture that this Target announcement seems to be disregarding.

“So I think first, let’s just be real, not a good story,” Hoan said. “I think the nuance that you’re describing is something that we have been struggling with here for so long, where we are hearing one story from businesses about why they’re closing, but understanding that there are realities that are much bigger than just a simple black and white.”