TIGARD Ore. (KPTV) – The Tigard Police Department may have the largest property crime unit in the state because of a unique funding source.
It is called Commercial Crime Unit; The team consists of three detectives and a sergeant who are dedicated to fighting crime for local businesses.
If you own a business in Tigard, some of your business license fees will support positions.
The program has been in operation in Tigard for 14 years, and city staff say the unit’s funding structure is unique among police departments on the West Coast and possibly the nation.
“We have the luxury of our unit,” said Gabriel Stone, one of the detectives assigned to the unit.
And while other local police departments have struggled in recent years to devote resources to fighting property crimes, the Tigard police department has expanded since its inception — their jobs, untouched, until those business license fees come in.
The detectives investigate fraud, phone scams, counterfeit luxury goods, shoplifting and organized retail crime, among other activities.
Investigators recently showed Fox 12 some of the most popular tactics used by thieves, such as ATM fraud and even money laundering.
“So these bills here are one dollar bills,” said Detective Cassie Massey, holding a jar of bills wrapped in liquid. “They soak them in a special solution and after they’ve soaked up enough water, they take them out, remove the ink and reprint them in another denomination of $50 or $100.
According to Tigard police, organized retail crime is one of the biggest issues businesses face.
“They come down and steal a lot of perfume or cosmetics or clothes,” Stone said. “They steal them by the stack and then in our investigation we see that they have it as a pop-up shop, online sales – like Craigslist or a delivery app.”
It’s the kind of cases that Mays has won recently: A Washington County grand jury recently indicted a suspect on multiple counts of aggravated theft in the theft of $200,000 in merchandise from Target and Fred Meyer over a six-month period.
The same suspect has three felony warrants out of Clark County.
Fox 12 is not releasing the suspect’s name because police are still trying to catch him.
“We have bankruptcy protection agents come in from other counties and contact us and say, ‘Hey, we could use your guys’ help with this.’ If we get a business affiliated with Tigard, we’re all about it,” Massey said.
And while the work may be endless, these investigators say it’s rewarding.
“We were actually able to hold (the thieves) accountable,” Stone said. We are proud to be able to protect the businesses in our city.
“People are starting to realize, ‘Oh, we’re not going to Tigard, they’re really going to investigate cases,'” Stone added.
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