West Linn's Bolton neighborhood has seen a spate of recent burglaries — most recently at La Sen Vietnamese Grill in the Central Village shopping center.
The La Sen break-in took place early on the morning of July 11, as intruders shattered the glass front door and took $200 in cash, according to the West Linn Police. Mason Hartmann, who owns Nature's Pet Market in Central Village, said a similar incident took place at his shop.
"It's been happening a lot in the last few months, especially in this neighborhood," Hartmann said. "We've contacted the police, and they're researching and investigating."
Acting West Linn Police Chief Neil Hennelly said there have been three burglaries in the Central Village area since April 1, and 14 across the whole city.
Hennelly said the City typically sees between 60 and 70 burglaries per year.
Police have investigated each of the most recent burglaries, with varying levels of success.
"Some (of the investigations) are suspended with no leads, some are still active," he said, adding that he did not want to elaborate further about investigations that were ongoing.
Hartmann, for his part, said the burglary at his store took place at about 5:45 a.m., fitting the pattern of early morning incidents.
"They smashed the front door window and walked right through," Hartmann said. "They knew where to go and took the safe. It wasn't bolted in, and it is now. They were in and out in less than a minute.
"So he wasn't after products, he was definitely going for something specific."
In an interesting twist, Hartmann said a similar incident took place at another Nature's Pet store in Portland.
"It was the same M.O. and everything; they broke the window and went to the safe," Hartmann said. "Their police officer said they found some of my deposit envelopes."
Hartmann has since beefed up security at his store and , as investigations continue, Hennelly said upgraded security measures are a worthy investment for businesses and residences alike.
"You can have glass-break alarms in a business and have video that captures eye-level video," Hennelly said. "In the old days we saw ceiling cameras … there's a lot more now with eye-level so when they come in, you're looking at their face. For residential and commercial, they're both well worth the investment."
Lighting is another important component to burglary prevention, according to police.
"Maybe leave a light on (at your business) so officers can see something on their routine patrols," Hennelly said. "And at home, backyard lights can be motion lights, but the front should be a steady one all night long so officers driving the streets can see.
Of course, as Hennelly added, "Burglars go places where people are not. In the daytime, it's residences and at night it's businesses."
Finally, police say residents and business owners alike can benefit from getting to know their neighbors.
"We've had cases where we've had people watch burglaries occur and be afraid to call 911 because they didn't want to be nosy, and the person had their whole house cleared out," Hennelly said.
Business as usual
With two high-ranking officers — including Police Chief Terry Timeus — on administrative leave, Hennelly said police have heard concerns about the department's response capabilities.
"We want the community to know that regardless of the investigation, officers are here 24/7," Hennelly said. "Emergency, non-emergency, it's still business as usual."
There were no further updates on the investigation. Timeus was placed on paid administrative leave in late June as the City opened an investigation into allegations of personnel policy violations. Lieutenant Mike Stradley, meanwhile, was also placed on leave in mid-July.
"This is a personnel matter so no further comment will be made," Citizen Engagement Coordinator Courtney Flynn said in a statement July 19. "During this time, Sergeant Mike Francis has been appointed as acting lieutenant."