Oregon liquor stores report steep rise in thefts and robberies

Author: Blair Best(KGW)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — Hollywood Beverage off Northeast Sandy Boulevard was busy with customers Sunday afternoon. It’s been open for about 15 years, but business this year is proving to be different from the rest.

“I’m certainly disheartened,” explained Dan Miner, who runs the store. “I’m certainly concerned — particularly with robbery where there’s threats of violence.”

Miner said that his business has been the victim of multiple robberies this year. However, he’s not alone.

According to the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, the state agency overseeing liquor stores, shoplifting claims are up more than 450% since 2018. Burglaries, when someone breaks into the store after hours, are up more than 500% since 2018. As for armed robberies, at least four have been reported this year. Three of them happened at Hollywood Beverage.

“I’ve had a cashier who was threatened for her life from the robber, he had a knife which was just inches away from her abdomen,” Miner said. “He said, ‘Don’t make any sound or I’ll kill you.’ He grabbed several bottles on the counter.”

The robber stole about $500 from the register, Miner said. Because of this and other thefts, Miner has spent thousands of dollars on break-in repairs.

On top of the more threatening crimes, liquor store owners are seeing people brazenly steal multiple bottles at a time. About two months ago, Hollywood Beverage found that a group of people stole 18 bottles at once. Miner said they often don’t know for sure that it’s gone until they review the security camera footage, and by that point it’s too late.

“We’re really limited because we can’t physically confront a shoplifter — it’s just verbal, we’re asking them to return the bottle, to not steal and that’s almost always ignored,” Miner explained.

When someone shoplifts in Portland, the store owner can call 911 if the crime is in progress; otherwise they need to call a non-emergency line. Miner said he’s been told to file online reports and many have gone unanswered. KGW reached out to the Portland Police Bureau but haven’t heard back yet.

Meanwhile, Miner took his concerns to the state last week and asked for some type of financial relief or help in curbing these crimes. The OLCC responded by joining The Oregon Retailer Crime Association to learn more on how to address retail crime.

“Right now, we can’t count on civil order. I think the state has an increased responsibility to help find a solution and to reduce this issue,” said Miner.

This string of theft isn’t happening exclusively in liquor stores — it’s impacting small businesses across the city.

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