Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Neighborhood Involvement

Building inclusive, safe and livable neighborhoods and communities.

ONI Main: 503-823-4519

City/County Info: 503-823-4000

TDD: 503-823-6868

1221 SW 4th Ave, Suite 110, Portland, OR 97204

Holiday Car Prowl Prevention

Protecting your purchases this holiday season

Car Broken Window

As we enter the holiday season, we will see an increase in car prowls around shopping malls and business districts. Please lock your vehicle and park in a well-lit, well-traveled area. Keep your vehicle show-room clean with nothing in it. Thieves not only break into cars for valuables, but also what they perceive to be valuable. Storing gifts in your vehicle in plain view will make your property more vulnerable to this kind of theft.  Offenders often case parking lots and watch shoppers go to their cars and drop off their purchases. If you must store packages in your car, place them in your trunk and then move your car to another area. 

This holiday season, be mindful of where you park your vehicle and implement car prowl prevention strategies. Happy holidays!

For more car prowl prevention information, please read

Want Justice? Follow Up with the DA

The importance with following up with the District Attorney's Office after an arrest

If you are a victim of crime and the offender is arrested, your participation may be critical in the prosecution’s case against the suspect. Without this commitment, there may not be enough evidence to move forward with charges.

When the police respond to a crime, they will provide the victim with a “Victim/Complainant Information Form” that explains when and who to contact to follow up after a suspect is arrested or questioned. This information includes how to follow up when the suspect is a juvenile. When an adult suspect is arrested and taken to jail, the arraignment is typically scheduled on 1pm the day following the arrest. The District Attorney’s office (DA) needs the victim to confirm that he or she plans to press charges against the suspect by 11am on the day of the arraignment. Without this communication, the case may result in a “no complaint”. If the suspect is arrested and cited, but not taken to jail, then the victim needs to confirm with the DAs office no later than five days prior to the court date that he or she will press charges (but wait for a week after the date of the issuance of the citation to call the DA’s Office to give them enough time to process the citation). If the individual isn’t arrested or cited, the form will state how to follow up; there may not be enough evidence to charge the suspect with a crime at this time. In felony prosecutions, the victim may receive a call from the DA’s office asking whether they wish to press charges or from the police if further information is necessary for the case;  often times felony cases are scheduled for presentment to a Grand Jury and victims or witnesses are notified by phone or issued a subpoena in person or by U.S. Mail. If it’s a misdemeanor, then the victim most likely will need to follow up. One way or the other, it’s always a good plan to contact the DA’s office before the deadline.

If the victim misses the deadline as outlined on the complainant form, the victim can still follow up with the DA’s office to express their intent to press charges as long as it’s within the statute of limitations for prosecuting that particular crime. At that point the DA’s office will review the case to determine if there is enough evidence to move forward. The criminal justice system works best if the victim follows up immediately after the arrest. If the suspect is still in jail, he or she can be brought to court for the arraignment, which ensures that the case can swiftly move forward.

There can be delays and other hassles involved in dealing with a trial. Some victims may not feel up to the challenge and may not have a lot of flexibility in their day. However, there have been examples where there was a strong case against a suspect, yet the victim did not follow through. In some incidents, that may be the lone arrest for a prolific offender. This is a problem not only for the case, but also the community.

How to report and prevent tagging

How and why you should report graffiti and ways to prevent future incidents

Graffiti photo

At night when most businesses are closed in a commercial zone, the area is bereft of people who are invested in the area and will take action if they see suspicious activity. Surveillance, private patrols, security strategies and alarm systems are helpful in shoring up vulnerabilities and keeping the bad actors in check. However, there are a lot of problems with graffiti in industrial areas despite these measures. Here are some ways to deal with graffiti:

  • 1. Report. If the tagger has left the scene, take a picture of the graffiti and report it by using the PDX Reporter App for Android or IPhone or filing an online report at (it is preferable if you choose the online report option). If that tagger remains or just left the area, contact 9-1-1. You can also report graffiti even if it’s not on your property. Please note:
      • The District Attorney can’t prosecute graffiti cases without a picture.
      • The City maintains a database of the incidents that residents report, which is researched when a tagger is caught. Since one tagger can cause a lot of damage before being apprehended, it’s important to be able to prosecute all incidents. The property owner will have to support the prosecution by testifying about monetary losses associated with vandalism.   
      • 2.  Remove. Because graffiti taggers are motivated by notoriety, leaving the tags up reinforces the behavior. Promptly removing the graffiti within 24-48 hours helps deter future incidents.
      • 3. Prevent. If your business is continually targeted, consider making changes to your property to prevent access to vulnerable areas. For example, you may plant thorny vegetation near an area regularly targeted or gate off access. Work with your Crime Prevention Coordinator for suggestions.
      • 4. Create a mural. Where possible, creating a community mural can be a deterrent. Tags are less visible when they are competing with a detailed mural.  You will need to obtain a permit with the City You can also contact the Regional Arts Council at 

Take steps to promptly address graffiti and prevent future incidents. Your actions will help enhance your business area.

Car Prowl Prevention for Businesses

Things that employers and employees can do to prevent car prowls

Cars in a parking lot

When an employee’s car is broken into, it impacts your organization. It may leave employees feeling concerned about safety. Taking steps to address vulnerabilities on your property and provide car prowl prevention information to coworkers can help reduce criminal activity and alleviate concerns. 

One prolific car prowler stated that if he looked into vehicles and saw nothing worth stealing in them, he would move on to another neighborhood. What is considered valuable is subjective. A gym bag filled with dirty exercise clothes may not be considered valuable to its owner, but a thief may believe that there is an electronic device in the bag. A window may be broken to access coins that are in view or to look for a smartphone in the console because the phone’s accessory is visible and it’s presumed to be left in the vehicle. When employees lock and keep their vehicles show-room clean with nothing in them, including personal information that can be used for identity theft, the thief will likely move on.

Increasing the visibility of your parking lots improves the security of your property. A criminal does not want to be apprehended. If his or her activities can be easily observed, then there is a greater risk of being caught. Make sure that employees can observe activity from the inside of the business out to the parking lot. Ideally passersby can view the area from the street and sidewalk. Prune bushes and trees, remove impediments to sightlines, install security cameras and improve lighting to maximize visibility.  

 For additional prevention tips, check out:

If an employee’s car is broken into, it’s prudent to relay the incident to other employees along with car prowl prevention advice so that everyone can step up their security measures and be vigilant over suspicious activity. Altering the physical space as well as habits can go a long way to improving overall security.

Robbery Prevention and Response

Proactive measures to prevent robbery and how to respond

Old Fashioned cash register

Several robberies have been reported in the news recently. Less common than commercial burglaries, robbery is a person-on-person crime that occurs when an offender takes something of value by force or threat of force. Because it is a serious risk to employees and customers at retail establishments, it's important to train employees and implement strategies to mitigate risk. 

 Responding to a robbery:

  • Remain calm and fully comply with the robbers’ demands.
  • Take only those actions that are demanded, nothing more. Your movements should be predictable and transparent.
  • Be a good witness and take note of height, weight, hair and eye color, tattoos, unique features and other descriptors that you can provide to the police.
  • Activate a silent alarm only if you can discreetly do so.

Robbery Prevention Tips:

  • Store Layout – Locate cash registers, aisles and displays so that employees can observe all activities within the store.
  • Lighting – Make sure the lighting in parking lot is adequate in order to eliminate dark hiding spots where criminals can "case the store." Make sure interior lighting is bright.
  • Staffing – Schedule at least two workers on duty after dark. All staff should be trained on how to respond to a robbery.
  • Visibility – Open up sightlines to your property by trimming vegetation or removing large advertising signs on windows. Employees and passersby should be able to observe activities inside and outside of your store.
  • Cash Handling – Adopt cash control policies limiting the amount of cash on hand. All excess cash should be dropped in the safe or deposited. Consider installing a time-release drop safe to minimize the amount of money a robber could take.
  • Cameras - Use a camera surveillance system that captures clear images under all lighting conditions.  Install security cameras at entry points, over cash registers and parking lots at angles that reveal facial and other features of suspicious individuals. Make sure employees know how to access footage for police.

Report suspicious activity – If you observe someone acting suspiciously, call the police at 9-1-1 for immediate threats to life or property. Otherwise you can call them at the non-emergency number at 503-823-3333.

If your Portland business would like some guidance about improving the security of your establishment, contact the City of Portland’s Crime Prevention Program at 503-823-4064,, or