At a November 28th 'Southeast Community Policing Forum' at Southeast Precinct headquarters, the Neighborhood Response Team officers serving Southeast Portland reported that in October, car prowls jumped 55% from September levels, and Sellwood was cited as one of the four worst-affected areas - the other three being the Hosford-Abernethy, Richmond, and Montavilla neighborhoods.

Bicycles, laptops left in cars, and now automobile GPS units are being particularly targeted, they said. GPS provides visual and sometimes audible indications of where you are driving and where you need to turn to get to your destination. Some are built into cars, and some are add-ons, but there seems to be a developing demand for stolen GPS units. As with other potentially valuable things, GPS and laptops should not be left visible in cars. Thieves tend to break in to get what they see within cars.

Officers reminded those present that increasingly the Internet website 'Craigslist' is being used to fence stolen items, as well as facilitate prostitution and drug activity. They counseled that when buying things from trading or auction websites, deals that seem too good to be true probably are. Among the warning signs that you are being offered stolen goods are:

· The seller does not know how the product works

· The price is substantially less than market value

· The seller is very eager to sell, and will only accept cash

· The seller's item lacks accessories and an owner manual

· Items advertised as new have either never been opened, or do not include original packaging

· Serial numbers have been removed

· The seller insists on meeting in a public location, even for large household items

Also present at the meeting was Marcia Dennis, the Graffiti Abatement Coordinator for the Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement, who responded to the protest by some that graffiti is a form of art. 'The difference between graffiti and art is permission,' she pointed out. 'Graffiti is vandalism.'

The city spends $1.5 million each year in tax dollars to remove graffiti. 'Taggers' who cause such vandalism can now get jail-time for what they have done, she pointed out. Graffiti should be photographed for police to use as evidence, reported to 503/833-4824, and then promptly removed to discourage repeat 'tagging'. Starting in March, the Graffiti Abatement Program will sponsor neighborhood cleanups of graffiti.

If you would like to attend the next such Community Forum, it will be held on Wednesday, January 23rd, 6-7:30 pm in the Community Room at Southeast Precinct, 48th and E. Burnside.

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