Group seeks harsher penalties for repeat car prowlers

The Portland Downtown Neighborhood Association is currently working to change a state law that they say allows prowlers to smash into vehicles multiple times without an increase in the severity of the charge.

The group has reportedly created a legislative proposal to make a third conviction of unlawful entry into a vehicle a felony subject to Repeat Property Offender law. That law specifies a presumptive prison sentence if a convicted offender has a certain number of previous property crime convictions.

According to Portland police, there were 368 thefts from vehicles reported in 2009, 433 in 2010, and 431 in 2011 in downtown Portland, excluding Old Town Chinatown. As of this September, there have been 432 theft from a vehicle reported in the downtown neighborhood.

The proposal is, of course, intended to deter property crimes. Those who repeatedly break and enter vehicles are typically sentenced to probation, which many feel doesn't provide much of a deterrent. Money may be a limiting factor, though, as increasing penalties will translate into increased costs.

Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said it isn't clear whether changing the law will decrease car prowling, but there are things car owners can do to decrease the problem. One is to leave no valuable items in their vehicles.

Those accused of car prowling and other theft crimes do well to contact an experienced defense attorney. Having such a crime on one's record affects various aspects of one's life. Getting a good criminal defense will ensure that the defendant's rights are respected and the best outcome is achieved.


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