Smash and grab robberies continue to be an epidemic across the country. Thieves smash into people’s car windows and take everything inside, sometimes even the car itself.
Police data shows that over 10,000 cars were stolen in the city of Portland, Oregon, in the past year. That’s an average of 27 cars stolen every day.
It’s something Megan Tapley knows all too well. She says her car has been stolen five separate times.
To put smash and grab thieves to the test, Inside Edition left a $300 speaker and a high-end purse inside a truck in Portland, Oregon. We also put GPS trackers inside each item.
Chief investigative correspondent Lisa Guerrero watched from the sixth floor of a hotel above a gas station parking lot where the car was parked. There were more cameras set up at the street level.
It didn’t take long for someone to scope out the car and procure a glass puncher tool from his sidekick on the street corner. He struggled to break the window, but eventually got in and took the purse inside. Both men then left the area.
Shortly after, we took off in pursuit. The GPS led us to an apartment building, where the sidekick was milling around out front. He said he didn’t know where the other guy went and refused to answer if he “typically steals stuff out of people’s trucks.”
We never got the purse back.
Tapley says she recommends getting a kill switch and an alarm system installed inside your vehicle. She’s also now urging city leaders in Portland to step up their efforts to combat the problem by improving mental health care for the growing homeless population and offering better treatment options for drug abusers.
The Portland Police Bureau says they take auto theft and property crimes seriously and are continuing to protect and serve the community while dealing with critical understaffing issues.
Experts also recommend parking in well-lit areas.