Wednesday, January 17, 2024

More on Portland Motor Vehicle Theft Data

As mentioned in my previous review of 2023 South Portland crime data, the category that stands out the most in recent data is Motor Vehicle Theft. This is not unique to South Portland; it is consistent with trends across Portland and across the country.  Axios wrote about the national car theft trend in early 2023 and in July declared it was skyrocketing.

Oregon is tracking with the US-wide Motor Vehicle Theft trend as reported by the FBI Crime Data below, though well below the US rate. 

Diving into the PPB Stolen Vehicle data for 2023 here, and sure enough, Kia and Hyundai top the list. 10 of the top 10 car models stolen in Portland are Kia or Hyundai, highlighting the widespread impact of the Kia Boyz Tiktok video that taught viewers how to steal the cars with just a screwdrive and a USB cable, and invited the viral trend. 

The South Portland data set is similar, with 6 of the top 10 most stolen models being Kia and Hyundai. 95% of these have been recovered to date.

In addition there is some detail on the time and day of theft, and model year of vehicle: 

Long story short, you don't want to be a 2017 Kia or Hyundai left unattended from 6pm-midnight.

I mentioned previously that Portland restarted up a task force to tackle auto theft (and another aimed at retail crime) in May 2023.  Recently, DA Mike Schmidt commented on this Jeff-alytics article that the new enforcement initiative and algorithms for stopping cars are contributing to a decline in Portland in 2023. The Portland numbers have been decidedly lower in the second half of the year. 

The automotive manufacturers have also rolled out anti-theft software updates to address the vulnerability. Judging by varied reports across Reddit and other forums, it appears these have had mixed results.

Neighborhood Crime Statistics for South Portland 2023

Portland Police Bureau offers crime statistics for the neighborhoods of Portland through its Tableau-powered public website.

I did a quick review of the data for South Portland and thought I'd share it here in case others are interested.

All offenses past year (Nov 2022-Nov 2023):

Taking a longer view back to 2016, we can see the overall increasing trend, though taking note of a potential peak in fall of 2022.

Regarding said peak, various sources including this Atlantic article have reported on violent crime rates peaking (with Portland's highest homicide rate in history in 2022), followed by a significant drop in 2023. 

The FBI Uniform Crime Reports for Oregon data is compiled through 2022 but suggests early indications of that decline: "Overall, Oregon’s most populated cities have experienced a nearly 9 percent decrease in violent index crime from 2021 to 2022, largely influenced by significant decreases in Bend, Eugene, and Portland. This is compared to the 11.8 percent increase in violent crime between 2020 and 2021, which indicates that the concerning increase in violent crime during the COVID-19 pandemic may be reversing, at least in those locales."

Back to South Portland, the largest category for the neighborhood is Larceny (unlawful taking away of property from another entity). Larceny combined with Burglaries make up 62% of the Property-related offenses since 2016, and 54% of all offenses. 

 Vandalism saw a sharp rise up through last winter, with this year showing a decrease.
The category that stands out the most in terms of recent spikes is... Motor Vehicle Theft. That is consistent with trends across other Portland neighborhoods.
In comparison with the US-wide Motor Vehicle Theft trend as reported by the FBI Crime Data below, Oregon is roughly tracking the trend, but well below the US rate. 

More on the stolen vehicle stats to come, and here. Portland restarted up an auto theft task force to tackle this in May 2023, and DA Mike Schmidt has commented on this Jeff-alytics article that yes, the viral Kia Tiktok video was impactful, and the new enforcement initiative and algorithms for stopping cars are contributing to a decline in Portland in 2023.

All of the Portland data is available and sortable by neighborhood via the PPB site, for a deeper dive. 

A review of the Motor Vehicle Theft data is next. Let me know if you are interested in more on this topic!