PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - At Jantzen Beach Moorage, on Wednesday, razor-wire is haphazardly wrapped around gaping holes in the fencing where plastic boards have been cut out by thieves looking to access the secured parking lot.

“We’ve put gates up, we’ve hired security companies, yet they just come through and cut everything apart, just to come in, steal property, cut out catalytic converters, whatever it is, said Ron Schmidt, who lives in a houseboat off Hayden Island.

Nearby business owners also express frustration at what has fast become a never-ending battle with crime.

“The gate is open during the day and we caught someone in there two weeks ago trying to cut a catalytic converter out of one of our customer’s vehicles,” said Jess Heitman, the owner of Woodstock Motorsports.

It’s just one example of the crime that Heitman says has gotten out of control, with no repercussions, and often no police response.

“We just see an absolute problem with lawlessness,” Heitman said. “There’s no consequence. These people can do anything they want to do.”

That’s why Schmidt, who is the president of the Waterfront Organization of Oregon recently sent a letter to city and county commissioners as well as the Multnomah County District Attorney, asking for local leaders to devote surplus funding to the Portland Police Bureau.

North Portland neighbors, businesses rely on private security to prevent thefts, stay safe

Image: KPTV

The police bureau’s budget has twice been cut since last year, when the police-killing of George Floyd sparked massive protests around the nation, including Portland.

Schmidt said Jantzen Beach Moorage resorted to hiring a private security company to patrol the area just under a year ago, after first making other security upgrades to the property.

Former Portland Police Commander Mike Leloff is now the operations director for United Security’s Oregon office.

His team manages security at Jantzen Beach Moorage, as well as at several other areas of Portland.

“The clients are experiencing high levels of crime and a slow response from an understaffed police department and so they are trying to fill the gaps with their own money, their own profits,” Leloff said.

It’s a busy time to be in the private security industry and Leloff said his team has already made a big difference at the moorage.

“We’ve reduced two three instances a week, to two or three a month now,” Leloff said.

“We use proactive approaches to try to prevent it from happening,” Leloff added. “We’re trying to prevent the entry, trying to prevent the theft, doing that through technology through human solutions.”

But hiring your own security isn’t cheap and Schmidt said he feels for neighbors and mom-and-pop shops that he says are on their own and helpless.

“I hope there’s a good reason that they’re committing the crimes but still we have put together the laws of our society for the good the majority of the people,” Schmidt said.

Over the summer, neighbors on Hayden Island got together to form the Hayden Island Community Safety Initiative, with the goal of collecting, analyzing and reporting crime data.

The group is also thinking about forming its own enhanced service district separate from the city of Portland.

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