Thieves targeting pickup truck tailgates

MILWAUKIE, Ore. -- Thieves are giving a new meaning to tailgating. They're stealing them from pickup trucks in the Milwaukie area, leaving truck owners without a way to secure their loads. Milwaukie police have taken two reports of stolen tailgates this month. The first happened overnight on March 8. The truck was in the parking lot at Meadow's Tavern on Johnson Creek Boulevard. The following night, March 9, Rob Kahlke reported his tailgate was stolen from his Ford pickup that was parked in his driveway on Southeast Witchita Road. "I don't think people should be able to take things without consequences," Kahlke said. Kahlke caught his theft on his home video surveillance system, but he can't tell who the thieves are. "I just saw two people come in, took 30 seconds, and they shined flashlights and waited for traffic to die down and were gone," Kahlke explained.The third report was made to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office by a couple who said their tailgate was stolen off of their truck overnight on March 21. The truck was parked at the couple's home near the intersection of Roots Road and Webster Road. Police believe the thieves are either selling the tailgates for scrap metal, or they are people in need of a replacement but didn't want to pay. Police also believe there could be more victims out there since the three cases so far happened close to one another. Tailgates are easy to take off of a truck; they're meant to be removed. Many older trucks don't have locks on their tailgates. There also aren't any after-market locks a truck owner can install on a tailgate. Some auto experts tell us some owners of older trucks have bolted padlocks to their tailgates for protection. They also suggest truck owners park their trucks in a garage when possible to avoid tailgate thefts. Newer truck models come with locks in the handle of the tailgate. But, owners must remember to secure the lock with a key. Many truck owners don't do that, even though they know they can. Kahlke is one of those drivers. "Have never locked it. I don't know anybody who locks it unless they've got a canopy on it," Kahlke said. But hindsight is 20/20 for Kahlke. He tells KATU News he plans to lock his tailgate with the key, after he replaces it. He also plans to press charges. "I felt kind of violated by it and I actually wanted to offer a reward, so if anybody can offer any information that can lead to a conviction, I'll give $1,000 dollars for that," said Kahlke.The reward Kahlke's offering plus what he estimates is a $500 to $1,500 cost to replace his tailgate, means he's out $1,500 to $2,000 for what he calls a senseless crime. Anyone with information about any of the three cases should call the Milwaukie Police Department or the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.