City spent about $36,470 last year investigating thefts from vehicles

In comparison to neighboring communities, West Linn is a relatively safe place. But that doesn’t mean residents should let their guard down or get lax in keeping their home and their belongings SUBMITTED - Last month, West Linn police recovered truckloads of stolen goods after an arrest. Many of those items remain unclaimed. Police recommend registering items on an online database.

In the month of April, the city has seen a sharp increase in thefts from vehicles. The suspects are specifically targeting unlocked vehicles in the Willamette, Savannah Oaks and Parker Crest neighborhoods, according to West Linn Officer Mike Francis. These entries are occurring during the overnight hours with no pattern as to day of week.  In some of the instances vehicles were targeted in open garages.

It takes about five seconds for a thief to break a vehicle’s window and snatch a purse. It takes even less time if the vehicle is unlocked.

In 2012, there were 76 reported thefts from vehicles in West Linn, totaling a loss of $45,347. This year, those numbers may climb. As of this time last year there were 44 reported thefts from vehicles. So far this year there have been 60 reported thefts from vehicles, according to Francis.

Of the 2012 break-ins, 34 vehicles’ windows were broken to gain access with a total loss of $26,800, and 42 of the vehicles were unlocked with a total loss of $18,548.

The numbers continue to climb when you take a look at the cost of investigating each incident. According to Francis, each case of theft involves six hours of work, totaling 456 hours of time, priced at about $80 an hour for a total of $36,470 to the taxpayers. That breaks down to about $480 per incident.

“That’s significant. That’s the cost to the victim and the taxpayer,” Francis said. “It highlights just how significant of an issue it is.”

To prevent break-ins, Francis offers two key tips: Lock your vehicle and don’t leave anything in it.

He said some people get baited into the belief that because West Linn is safe, they don’t need to take preventative measures.

“It can happen and it can happen here, and it can happen very quickly,” he said.

Because of its location near a highway and because of the income level of its residents, West Linn is a target-rich city for some theft rings. Francis said no neighborhood or area of the city is off-limits to thieves.

“Lock your cars. Take your expensive things out of it. If you see some suspicious activity in your neighborhood, call it in,” Francis advised.

Officers on nights have been working in the neighborhoods locating unsecure premises and notifying homeowners.  Since April 1, they have located 110 open garage doors throughout the city and notified the homeowners. 

Police recommend also locking the door connecting to the garage and leaving driveway lights on. 

“Most importantly, if you see something, say something. Call 9-1-1 immediately when you see suspicious activity occurring. This dramatically increases our opportunity to apprehend criminals,” Francis said.

For more crime prevention tips visit

If you are a victim of theft, you have a better chance of recovering your goods if they are registered. The city offers a free online registration service. The online database is private and information is only accessed by the West Linn police if your items are reported as missing or stolen. The database can be found at

Francis is currently working on a public service video about thefts and how to prevent them. It will be available on a police YouTube channel by mid-June.

Top 10 items stolen from vehicles:

10. GPS device

9. Currency

8. Wallets

7. Keys

6. Clothing

5. Sunglasses

4. Identification

3. iPads and iPods

2. Sporting goods

1. Backpacks, purses and briefcases

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