Thieves have been swiping credit cards and using them to quickly buy gift cards before the thefts are discovered

REVIEW FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego's Hazelia Field and its dog park on Stafford Road are popular destinations for pet owners. But police are warning visitors to lock their cars and take valuables with them before heading out with Fido after a recent string of car break-ins. Lake Oswego police are investigating a string of thefts from cars in the parking lot at Hazelia Field, all of which have occurred during daylight hours.

Some of the victims have been at Hazelia Field to bring their dogs to the nearby dog park, but others have been watching soccer games or out walking on the park trails — activities that took them further away from their vehicles.

"We've had a total of six reported this month," LOPD Lt. Darryl Wrisley told The Review this week. "It's one of those that's a crime of opportunity, because people are leaving purses and valuables in the front seats of their cars and then going out."

Wrisley said the thefts appear to coincide with a rise in warmer weather, which brings more people to Hazelia Field on Stafford Road. Some of the thefts have involved unlocked cars, he said, but the perpetrators have also smashed windows to enter cars and grab items left on the seats.

"Sometimes they're unlocked, but lately it has been a lot of broken windows," Wrisley said.

The thieves have often taken wallets and credit cards and then quickly rushed to make several large purchases in the next hour or two — before the theft is discovered and the cards are canceled. The credit cards have frequently been used to purchase Visa gift cards, Wrisley said, which can then be spent at a later time and are difficult to trace.

In one instance, a woman at the dog park discovered that her credit cards had been stolen and quickly canceled them, only to learn that the thieves had already purchased $6,000 worth of Visa gift cards and spent another $1,200 on purchases in Washington in the brief time before she made the call.

Wrisley said police are investigating the thefts and following multiple leads, including tracking down video surveillance from stores where the credit cards were used. However, he said it's too soon to tell whether the thefts are connected.

In the meantime, Wrisley said visitors to Hazelia Field — as well as other public spaces in Lake Oswego — should always remember to take their valuables with them, or else take precautions to make their vehicles less of a target for thieves.

"If we could get people to lock valuables in their trunks before they get to where they're going, that makes it harder (for prowlers)," he said. "Don't leave things out in the open where they're visible, and know your credit card numbers and the banks they're associated with ahead of time, so in case this happens, you can cancel them right away."

Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Anthony Macuk at 503-636-1281 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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