Every 42 minutes there is a report of vandalism in Portland — often involving broken windows. Some storefronts have been hit repeatedly.
There were more reports of broken windows and vandalism in Portland last year than during the violent protests of 2020.
“It is a complex problem that really requires a complex solution,” said Laurie Drapela, a criminal justice professor at Washington State University Vancouver. Drapela explained that because there are fewer people living and working in downtown Portland, there aren’t as many eyes and ears around to help prevent crime.
“You have a lot of office complex space now where people are working from home, so they’re not downtown taking lunch breaks, going to and from the MAX or TriMet,” said Drapela. “They provide natural surveillance. What we call in the field — guardianship.”
Drapela says the community should focus on bringing people back downtown, especially on nights and weekends — when much of the vandalism occurs.
Increased police presence and social services will help, Drapela explained — but at the end of the day, it’s less likely that criminals will break windows if people are around and watching.
“You could see some turnaround here that is not short lived. It is more into the future and gets us back to the downtown Portland we know and love,” said Drapela.