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Citywide tire vandals hit Brooklyn

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Les Schwab Tacoma Street Store Assistant Manager Scott Palmer shows where a vandals sturdy pin punctured and destroyed this almost-new tire.Starting earlier this summer, more and more northeast Portland neighbors in Irvington, Grant Park, Alameda, Rose City Park and Laurelhurst were finding the tires on their SUVs, trucks, and cars slowly going flat.

When a report came out showing that as of August 20, a total 184 tire vandalism police reports had been filed, this story gained attention in the news.

What wasn’t reported widely was that 22 of those police reports of destroyed tires came from the Brooklyn neighborhood in that same time period.

“From May to mid-September, vandals have ruined 334+ tires,” Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention Coordinator Teri Poppino told THE BEE.

According to information issued by Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association volunteers, incidents there have been concentrated in an area bounded by S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard and 11th Avenue; from S.E. Powell Boulevard south to Holgate Boulevard.

The tire vandals strike every evening of the week. 84% of their targets have been SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans, statistics show.

“This customer bought this SUV tire in April,” said the Les Schwab Sellwood Store’s Assistant Manager Scott Palmer, as he showed THE BEE a ruined tire that had just been replaced.

“This tire is so new, it hasn’t had its first rotation,” Palmer added. “Look at the tread – it’s like a brand new tire.”

Even close up, it was almost impossible to see the puncture in the sidewall of the tire. “The best way to describe it is a ‘teeny, tiny pinhole’. It looks like something that might be made by sticking in a very small, but extremely sturdy needle.”

Whether new or old, these tires cannot be repaired, Palmer pointed out. “Any damage to the sidewall of the tire is not repairable, unfortunately. There's not enough material in the sidewall of the tire to repair safely.”

Based on what they’ve seen at their store, Palmer said, it looks like the vandalism peaked in August, then started to taper off – only to pick up again in September. “Just this week – this is the sixth one we've had come in the store this week.

“I just called and checked,” Palmer continued. “Our stores on S.E. Powell, on S.E. 82nd Avenue, in Gladstone and at Lloyd Center have been replacing more vandalized tires lately – and mostly on larger vehicles.”

Most of the vandalism has occurred on vehicles parked along neighborhood streets, reports show. “It’s true, some of our customers have been ‘hit’ more than once,” Palmer said. “But, we’re also getting a few damaged tires in from people who live in Vancouver or other areas. Perhaps this is being done in parking garages, also.”

According to Portland Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson, no suspects have been located or arrested in these crimes – crimes which have caused an accumulated estimate of $100,000 in damages so far.

“Each time I talk about this at a neighborhood or problem solving meeting, I hear about additional victims,” remarked Southeast Crime Prevention Coordinator Katherine Anderson.

Part of the problem, Anderson said, is that this crime is “vastly under reported, so there is no way to know the true extent of the crime and the number of victims.”

To avoid malicious tire punctures, Anderson suggested parking off the street, in a garage, carport, or at least in a driveway – and leaving the home’s exterior lights on at night.

“Nothing is better than the power of observation,” Anderson said. “If you are up early or late, take the time to look out your window onto the street. If you wake up in the middle of the night and get up, walk to the window and look at vehicles parked in front of your or neighbors property. If you see suspicious activity, call 9-1-1.”

Unless you see your tires being vandalized, the best way to file a report is online at

www.portlandpolice.com/. Scroll down to the “I want to …” section. Or, past crimes can be reported by phone at the police non-emergency number – 503/823-3333.

CrimeStoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the case. Tips can be left at 503/823-4357, or online at: HYPERLINK "crimestoppersoforegon.com/" www.crimestoppersoforegon.com/.