Hazel Dell Woman gets her stolen car back nearly four months later

A Hazel Dell woman searched online for her stolen car for four months not knowing it had been parked, not far away.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Most stolen cars, if ever located, are found within a week or two, according to Portland Police. So, when a Hazell Dell woman got the call nearly four months later to come to pick up her Nissan Pathfinder in North Portland, she was thrilled.

“We couldn’t believe it. I looked over every day on Craigslist, Facebook Market, hoping someone has it or posted it for sale. I know it’s an older car, but it really means a lot to me,” said Alena Wikham.

Alena’s dad bought this Nissan Pathfinder in 1993.  It became “hers” a few years later. Four hundred thousand miles later, it vanished from a Hazel Dell street on Dec. 4.

“I have a lot of memories in it with my dad and just going back from the beach as a kid and just sunset cruises,” said Wikham.

Her car had been sitting in North Portland for months. It was parked and did not appear stolen or damaged (on the outside). It did not even fit the criteria of an abandoned vehicle as defined by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT).

In order for PBOT to remove a vehicle that is abandoned it must:

  •  not have a lawfully affixed, unexpired registration plate, or fails to display  current registration.
  • appear to be inoperative or disabled.
  • appear to be wrecked, partially dismantled or junked.

It likely would have stayed there longer had a neighbor not reported it in late March 2021.

One week later, PBOT came out to assess the car. When the vehicle identification number (VIN) was run by police, it was determined the car was stolen.

Michael Holloway is part of a new branch with the Portland Police Bureau. After it was determined the vehicle was stolen, it was his job as a public safety support specialist, PS-three for short, to deal with the property.

PS-3s assist in lower priority calls that don’t require sworn police officers, like vehicle recovery. The program began in 2019.

(The graphic you see below shows stolen car reports in the city of Portland, from February 2020 to February 2021, more than 7,000)

Michael said he, and his fellow PS-3s, each take about five stolen car reports a day. Sometimes they write the actual reports but other times they are reuniting stolen property with its owner.

“It’s probably one of the better parts of my job, I really enjoy finding a vehicle and getting it back to the owner,” said Holloway.

“I’m thankful for the community, people that call in and himself taking the time of the day, just to help people,” said Wikham. “It really helps brings happiness back into my eyes.”

If you see an unfamiliar car parked in your neighborhood, PBOT says give it a few weeks, not months, then follow this link on their website to report it. If you suspect it’s stolen, call the Portland Police non-emergency line right away at (503) 823-3333 .

Chris McGinness is a meteorologist and transportation reporter for KGW. Got a story idea or a great photo you want to share? Email him at cmcginness@kgw.com or reach out on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram