It's every car owners worse nightmare; having your car stolen. I've often thought about the proposition myself from time to time about losing one of my cars. A wreck or even some other type of accident from an act of nature is always preferable in my opinion. There is a sense of closure. And to a lesser degree some understanding at least if there is no responsibility involved. Even if it is stolen and you get the thing back to find that it was taken for a joy ride and destroyed in the process, at least you know that you got the car back. Perhaps you can even come to terms with the mistakes of someone's youth. But a theft that takes your ride away and never lets you see it again? There is always something missing. The biggest thing you miss even more than your car is that sense of security.
That sense of security has apparently been missing in the streets of Portland, Oregon for quite some time. It turns out that an auto theft ring ran by a family out of their dismantling and car crushing business fronts has been terrorizing residents for years. The worst part? Thanks to the apathy that red-tape brings, and the indifference of government divisions, no one would ever do anything about it. And those that did care enough to do something once a task force was created had their financial throats slashed when the axe came down for budget cuts.
But thanks to one man, 13-year police veteran Detective Travis Fields, this felonious fiefdom of freewheeling sociopaths was finally crushed like the thousands of stolen cars they nicked from off the streets and private property of the owners. It was a twisted family affair with these criminals who relied upon kin to sustain this operation. Simply put, they'd pay drivers and informants to locate potentially abandoned vehicles that no one would miss, and then haul them in to be immediately crushed so that they could be sold for scrap metal. In all, 34 arrests were made in total.
You know that project car sitting in your back yard that you've been meaning to get to? GONE! They'd come along, steal it, and crush it.
Your 2nd car been sitting in your driveway for a while collecting dust until you could finally get around to fixing it? GONE! That truck that your father left to you after he passed away? Just ask David Uphoff what happened when he merely parked it outside of his own business? (Spoiler alert: they stole it and immediately sent it to the crusher). Hell, break-down on the side of I-5? They'd haul your car off and crush the thing right away!
In about an 8 month period alone, police recorded 7,000 vehicles being towed into these yards to be crushed. Let that just sink in for a minute. That's a little less than 1,000 cars a month, and a little more than a side-business.
The scary part about all this is that one of the businesses involved here, A-1 Light Truck & Van Parts is still in business. It's just been sold to the owner's/accused's nephew with a slight name change to A-1 Auto Parts. The new boss says he's not like his uncle, and believes this was just a whole messy paperwork situation. The fact that Raymond Erickson caught them red-handed with his crushed '68 International Harvester truck they stole from him, and the fact that A-1 was also illegally selling used catalytic convertors off the stolen cars are both just extreme coincidences I'm sure. Also, when your peers in the same industry start to willingly beg legislators to regulate the industry because you're giving them a bad name, that doesn't bode well for your argument either.
After reading this, I'm gonna buy a car cover or two, or at least wash my parked vehicles. And if you live in Portland and had a car stolen anytime in the past few years... Well, now you have a pretty good idea of what probably happened to it.
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