Before they became the modern, hot-selling, Volkswagen-crushing mainstream brand they are now, Subaru was a niche brand that mostly appealed to people in states with bad weather. The older ones, being the tough workhorse cars they are, remain common sights in places like Portland, Oregon. That's changing thanks to the work of one mysterious thief.
Oregon Live reports that the city has been victimized by a wave of older Subaru thefts since last month. The sheer volume of old Fuji Heavy wagons and sedans is kind of stunning, according to police :
During the first 11 months of 2014, an average of 20 Subarus were reported stolen per month in Portland. During December, 90 vanished. Nearly all were Subaru Legacy or Subaru Impreza models made from 1991 to 1999, said Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.
Many of the locked cars have disappeared from public places or safe residential streets during daylight hours with plenty of people watching.
One of them was local artist Ursula Barton, who walked out of the New Seasons on Northeast 33rd Avenue recently to find her blue 1999 Legacy Outback wagon gone — along with the painting and laptop inside. It was the fourth Subaru theft in the Portland area in 14 hours. Most of them are only worth a few thousand dollars, but mean much more to their loving owners.
The thief, police say, isn't even smashing these vehicles' windows in. Police think he's using a "jiggle key," a worn down older Subaru key that can still fit into doors and ignitions. (Modern cars are a lot harder to steal.)
What gives? Older Subarus aren't among the most-common stolen vehicles, like Ford trucks and Honda Accords. Is some enterprising thief after their parts, or is he using them to build some Frankenstein rally monster with power enough to rival even the legendary 22B?
Probably not. Portland Police Det. Chris Brace said he thinks the thief, likely one person assisted by his girlfriend, is just looking for valuables, a car to drive from place to place, and even a place to sleep. Likely, there's some drug addiction at work here, he said.
But while police can't say who this suspected thief is at the moment, they have a good idea of his identity.
Brace won't name the man, but says he helped get the man arrested for driving a stolen Toyota back in November — and has since connected him to two stolen Subarus via fingerprints left in the cars.
The police bureau doesn't normally send a forensic evidence team to lift prints in minor property cases, Brace said. But investigators have examined several recovered Subarus in recent weeks. That is because Brace is so convinced one man is behind the burst of stolen cars — and wants to build the case so he can stop him.
"A lot of these are connected to that guy," Brace said. "Evidence suggests he is heavily into drugs... so he is going to make a mistake and get caught."
Let's hope the Portland police are able to shut this Subaru thief down soon. A man with a generic Subaru key in Portland is a dangerous man indeed.
Hat tip to David!