Gorge visitor concerned others will be victims too: 'It certainly makes me not want to stop there'

BRIDAL VEIL, Ore. - Thieves seem to have it down to a science when breaking into cars in the Columbia River Gorge. There were 25-30 reports of car break-ins in June, the Multnomah County Sheriff's spokesman said.

"The one hurt most was my little boy, he's 8. He thought vacation was totally over," said Bob Dickinson, who saved up money to take his Idaho family to Multnomah Falls and the Oregon coast.

Thieves broke his car window and then stole his wallet and his wife's purse from under the seat.

"My privacy was invaded," he said.

He got help from family to continue the vacation, but was surprised to learn the busy parking lots aren't equipped with surveillance cameras.

"It's extremely frustrating," he said. "Security cameras certainly have helped other people in the past, and they certainly could be useful to put them up over Multnomah Falls."

But no agency seems to be willing to put cameras in the budget. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) owns the parking lot, while the U.S. Forest Service owns the property and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office patrols when possible.

All three agencies would likely have to work together to install cameras.

A couple visiting from California, who saw and appreciated the signs in the lot warning them not to leave valuables in the car, don't think cameras would make a difference.

"Are you going to catch them or is it just going to be a waste of time of money to put them in here?" Butch Kerr said. "They put hoods over their faces with glasses, and they're done."

A U.S. Forest Service spokesman added that thieves break into cars at a variety of parking areas around the Columbia River Gorge, where resources and power to maintain cameras would be a challenge.

Still, it's easy to find a victim who has dealt with the effects of a break-in.

"It certainly makes me not want to stop there again," Dickinson said. "Just for that reason."