Outdoor activities retailer REI has announced in an email sent to customers that it will soon close its only store in Portland, Oregon because of the rampant crime and theft at the store.
In the email, obtained by Oregon Live, it said that the Portland store “had its highest number of break-ins and thefts in two decades, despite actions to provide extra security.” Because of that, the email went on to say, it plans to close the location when the lease expires next February.
Continuing, the email said, “While we do not believe a downtown Portland location will be possible in the near term, our stores in Tualatin, Hillsboro and Clackamas remain open and ready to outfit you with the gear and advice you need to enjoy life outside.”
Apparently, crime came to a head for the store when, on Black Friday of 2022, a car crashed through the glass front doors and the store was ransacked. That was the third break-in that week alone. The store then tried upgrading its security, but that proved ineffective in keeping out the brazen criminals.
Adding more details on the rampant crime the Portland store has experienced, Oregon Live went on to report that:
Cody Bowman, spokesperson for Wheeler’s office, said the mayor’s staff and PPB worked directly with REI to find ways to address crime in the Pearl District, including more police patrols in the area and focused efforts on designated days to intercept and arrest shoplifters.
Behrbaum said REI has made costly investments in store security, including replacing the store’s windows with security glass, hiring around-the-clock private security and installing a surveillance trailer at the store’s loading dock. Despite its plans to close the store, she said the company is installing new security sensors for its remaining months of business.
But the volume of break-ins, shoplifting and other crimes is “overwhelming systems in place,” Behrbaum said in an email. In 2022, REI spent more than $800,000 on additional security, she said.
“Yet, we still experienced 10 burglaries, including one event that shut down our 14th street entrance for more than two months,” Behrbaum said. She said over the past two years, REI has made significant investments on securing its Portland store.
And REI isn’t the only store to ditch Portland. Nike also closed a Portland store because of rampant shoplifting, as did Walmart, which cited “financial reasons” for its closure of two Portland stores. Even more shocking was Coava Coffee Roasters, a Portland coffee chain, announcing that it was going to close its downtown location due to the “extreme violence and criminal activity.”
Cody Bowman, a spokesperson for Portland Mayor Wheeler, when asked about the crime situation and REI closure, said, “The Portland Police Bureau and other public safety partners worked with REI directly to execute a retail theft mission at their Pearl location and developed proactive safety measures, including authorizing temporary security camera trailers at their loading dock and protective measures toward the front of their store.”
Continuing, Bowman said, “Mayor Wheeler is committed to further supporting REI to help ensure we retain their business in Portland and help them succeed. All options are on the table as we explore paths forward.”
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