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Burglars usually want to work where people aren't; so during the crisis they've shifted from homes to businesses

ERIC NORBERG - The burglar who broke into the Touch of Vanity Salon near the Moreland Theater in late April brought along a construction demolition tool, but hadnt counted on the thick wall of concrete between the salon and the intended target - the jewelry store next door. He didnt get through. Inner Southeast has generally not suffered the worst in Portland from burglars, who typically break into homes in the daytime, when they think nobody is home. But home burglaries are down even further this spring, with homes likely to be occupied at any hour.

Instead, burglars have turned to businesses. As the Portland Police Bureau reported on May 5, "Commercial burglaries throughout Portland have increased in the past month compared to the same time period in the last three years." One such took place in Westmoreland in the early hours of Tuesday, April 21, on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, a block north of Bybee Boulevard. The "A Touch of Vanity" salon was broken into by an intruder armed with an expensive (and probably stolen) construction tool, with which he was bent on going through the wall between the salon and Johnson Jewelers.

Only after having removed part of the wooden wall did the bandit discover a thick layer of concrete under the boards barring the way. In the end, he left behind the tool, grabbed what merchandise he could find in the salon, and left. Central Precinct detectives are actively pursuing leads in this investigation.

Salon proprietor Debra Banks told THE BEE that the damage to the front door and the wall was substantial, adding, "With the assistance of building supplies from McCoy Millwork we are getting back on our feet, repairing damage."

And, she says, she has made it a point to be at the shop regularly, even though it has been closed for salon business in accordance with the Governor's order, and she will continue to be there frequently – at least until after her new security system has been installed. Meantime, on Tuesday, May 5, Central Precinct's Neighborhood Response Team (NRT) announced it had identified and arrested 38-year-old Eric Michael Lamberton for his involvement in many recent burglaries. A search of his vehicle revealed items that were stolen during a burglary the night before, and he had been using contractor tools in his break-ins. Through their investigation, officers obtained information about storage units that Lamberton was using to store additional stolen items. Officers served search warrants on two of those storage units and located approximately $56,000 worth of contractor tools that were believed to have be stolen during burglaries. It is unclear whether Lamberton is responsible for the Westmoreland break-in, but at any rate he's off the streets for the time being – booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) on five counts of Burglary in the First Degree, and two counts of Theft in the First Degree.


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