Liquor store thefts in Oregon have skyrocketed in recent years, leaving store owners concerned for their safety and shouting “from the rooftops” that the crimes must end.
“I’ve had a cashier who was threatened for her life from the robber, he had a knife which was just inches away from her abdomen,” Dan Miner, who owns Hollywood Beverage in Portland, told KGW. “He said, ‘Don’t make any sound or I’ll kill you.’ He grabbed several bottles on the counter.”
The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission published a report earlier this month detailing how shoplifting incidents at liquor stores in the state have skyrocketed by 450% since 2018.
The data show there were fewer than 200 police reports for shoplifting incidents at liquor stores in 2018, before steadily increasing each year. There were fewer than 300 shoplifting reports in 2019, shooting up to about 350 in 2020 and up to about 465 incidents in 2021. As of August, there were already 450 logged reports, according to Willamette Week.
Burglaries at liquor stores have increased by more than 500% since 2018 in the state. Armed robberies have also increased, with at least four such crimes this year, three of which have occurred at Hollywood Beverage.
“I’m trying to scream and shout from the rooftops,” Miner told Willamette Week earlier this week. “This stuff is on the rise, and no one’s doing anything about it.”
People taking multiple bottles of alcohol at a time has also become more common, according to local reports. Miner said that a group of people stole 18 bottles at once in one incident.
Crime in Portland has skyrocketed across the board over the last few years, with a recent study finding violent crime in the city drastically rose over the last three years, most precipitously in 2020, when the city saw near-nightly protests and riots over the death of George Floyd.
The city saw a 58% increase in homicides in 2020 compared to the year prior, and 2021 notched a 54% increase in homicides compared to the already violent and bloody 2020. The number of homicides in 2021 was a 238% increase from numbers recorded in 2018.
In 2020, liquor stores lost $100,000 in profits from thefts, which Miner attributes to the police department’s lack of response during the riots that summer, according to Willamette Week.
Miner told KGW that he was instructed to file online reports for the recent thefts, but “many” have gone unanswered, the outlet reported. Business owners are told to call 911 when a theft is ongoing, and to file reports online if a theft has already occurred. The Portland Police Bureau did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the matter.
“We’re really limited because we can’t physically confront a shoplifter — it’s just verbal, we’re asking them to return the bottle, to not steal and that’s almost always ignored,” Miner told KGW.
Miner called on the state for assistance in addressing the crimes last week, according to the outlet. The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission has since joined The Oregon Retailer Crime Association to help bolster stores against thefts.
“Right now, we can’t count on civil order. I think the state has an increased responsibility to help find a solution and to reduce this issue,” said Miner.