High-ranking Portland, Or., police officials were warned two years ago that the city’s loosely regulated secondhand stores were selling “massive amounts” of stolen merchandise, say internal police documents obtained by The Oregonian. Two October 2003 memos by Officer Heather Rippe outline the extensive scope of the problem and suggest recommendations for addressing it, including revisions to a flawed city ordinance and closer monitoring of the stores. The documents prompted no action. It is not clear whether they were forwarded up the chain to Chief Derrick Foxworth.
After the FBI raided 10 secondhand stores in late August, an East Precinct detective sent Foxworth a memo decrying “a cultural acceptance within the Police Bureau in which our officers know that these shops are engaging in illicit business.” Detective Sgt. David Anderson said, “These shops have become a sanctuary and safe haven for criminal conduct.” The Oregonian has reported that a series of FBI raids uncovered a brazen black market in which millions of dollars in stolen goods had moved through secondhand stores since 2001; Portland police had failed to bring charges against a single store. Fpxworth has reassigned the two detectives responsible for monitoring pawn and secondhand stores and opened an internal investigation. The Oregonian obtained the memos through a public records request.