By Midge Pierce

If you’re feeling like crime is under-reported, you’re  right.

“Reported crimes are only a shadow of what’s real,” Crime Prevention Coordinator Marianna Lamanto told a group of Sunnyside citizens at a recent neighborhood safety meeting.

Between ongoing computer glitches, federal crime reporting priorities and the City’s shortage of police officers,  only the most heinous crimes have been making it into Portland databases recently according to beat officers. “When we hear that crime is going down, we all just laugh,” confirms East Precinct Officer David J. McGarry.

At the safety meeting, co-presenter Teri Poppino said that crime fears are exacerbated by social media. Sites like Next Door are useful in alerting neighbors to a problem. They also drive the perception that crime is rising.

Heightened awareness and an increase in theft have citizens worried that serious crime is out of control, according to the safety coordinators who confirm that petty crime is up as more and more people roam the streets unanchored to homes and social services.

“We have a real problem with drug addiction,” said Lamanto. “Heroin is very cheap. It’s readily available for the price of a pack of cigarettes.”

Bike thefts are among the most common. “If you don’t bring it indoors, it’s gone.”

Stolen cars that wind up in impound lots are another problem. One attendee wondered why cars are not run through a missing vehicle database.

Another resident proposed hiring private security company patrols like one underway in Laurelhurst. The idea  was met with skepticism by a resident who felt the monthly fees were unmanageable for many Portland residents.

Alternative ideas included working with groups like Hawthorne Business Association and requesting bike garages at frequented places like Fred Meyer’s on Hawthorne Blvd.

Other ways to deter crime are to know your neighbors, to form foot patrols and Neighborhood Watch groups, and even park in each others’ driveways when neighbors are out of town. A notable suggestion is to be “obnoxiously friendly to strangers” to let them know you live in a caring, vigilant neighborhood.

Sharing information and being watchful reduces crime, says Lamanto.  For online reports: portlandoregon.gov/police/cor.

For a complete list of who to call and when go to the crime prevention website at:  portlandoregon.gov/oni/cp

Citizens may not feel they are getting the quick responses they want with their reports. Officers contend the more reports that are made in a neighborhood, the more likely you are to get police attention.