Auto Theft and Retail Theft Task Force reports on progress

February 2024

On February 5, the Portland Metro Chamber joined Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson, Portland Police Bureau Chief Bob Day, Multnomah County Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell, and Gresham Police Chief Travis Gullberg to update the public on the progress of the Auto and Retail Theft Task Force. Spearheaded by Lead Deputy DA Theresa Turner and DA Investigator Rebecca Lauderdale, this collaboration between law enforcement, the business community, and the District Attorney’s (DA) Office has already yielded promising results in less than seven months.

Members of the DA’s office focused on building closer ties with retailers to improve reporting mechanisms and enhance case preparation. Additionally, partnerships with law enforcement agencies have facilitated the adoption of advanced investigative techniques, leading to an increase in successful case outcomes.

This partnership has resulted in a noticeable uptick in reported theft cases and a higher rate of referrals to the DA’s Office with substantial evidence that enables prosecutors to swiftly issue charges, thereby bolstering accountability and deterrence.

“The multi-jurisdictional task force has already made a measurable difference in our community. This is clear evidence that collaboration between our public agencies is the key to solving the challenges facing our community,” says Andrew Hoan, president and CEO of the Portland Metro Chamber.

Looking ahead, the Organized Retail Theft Task Force anticipates several high-profile indictments in the coming months. Moreover, the enactment of SB 340, effective January 1, 2024, will empower the DA’s Office to aggregate theft incidents, offering a more accurate depiction of the profound impact caused by habitual offenders.

Key Achievements:

  • Training Initiatives: Over 375 employees have undergone comprehensive training sessions, focusing on case preparation, reporting protocols, and related areas.
  • Retail Theft Missions: The Task Force’s concerted efforts have led to over 412 arrests/citations. Furthermore, approximately $30,000 worth of recovered merchandise has been successfully returned to shelves. Notably, the operations have identified five potential fencing operations, disrupting illicit supply chains.
  • Indicted Cases: To date, the Task Force has secured indictments against 10 defendants, amounting to $164,143 in retail theft and $125,038 in organized retail theft. Additional indictments are expected shortly, with projected totals surpassing $55,000 in retail theft alone.

The collaborative endeavors between the DA’s Office, law enforcement agencies, and the business community is an example of the efficacy of community-driven approaches in combatting theft. Through enhanced collaboration, proactive measures, and legislative support, the task force remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding communities and upholding justice.