Car thieves are everywhere.
One million cars are stolen every year in America, and in Portland, Oregon, specifically, thieves have made off with 10,000 vehicles in the last year. Now, some citizen sleuths are taking matters into their own hands, but authorities tell Inside Edition that doing so comes with its own set of risks.
About 12,000 Portlanders, fed up with the car theft crime wave that has affected so many, have formed their own patrol team to track down stolen vehicles and reunite them with their owners.
Many residents report suspicious vehicle sightings on PDX Stolen Cars, a Facebook group created by Titan Crawford.
“A lot of the people who are a part of this group are victims themselves and that’s why they take it so seriously,” he tells Inside Edition.
In the past year, those associated with his group have recovered more than 1,400 cars.
He showed Inside Edition how the group runs the vehicle identification numbers through an online database to see if the car is stolen.
“This is a confirmed stolen, Nov. 1 out of Vancouver, Washington,” he tells Inside Edition chief investigative correspondent Lisa Guerrero, who went along with Crawford on one of his patrols.
As they waited for police to respond, across town another citizen sleuth, Nicole Heath found two stolen vehicles in the very same apartment complex.
Officer Adam Baker applauds the citizen sleuths, but also cautions them.
“Citizens who are out looking for stolen cars are not prepared for the confrontations that come along with it,” he tells Inside Edition.
But it appears those dedicated to the cause will not stop so long as the issue persists.
One woman who got her stolen car back says the work they do is worth the risk.
“You guys really are a citizens army going out to help each other,” Guerrero tells her.
“You have to be,” she replies. “I got it back, I beat the system.”