Thief steals gift, possessions from homeless man in Portland: 'That broke my heart'

Thief preys on homeles man - katu photo.jpg

Surveillance video captured a man stealing the majority of a homeless man's possessions as he slept in the cold Sunday evening in downtown Portland.

Jamol Eli works for SQ1 and noticed that the man was sleeping in the doorway of his office building on Southwest Oak Street, so he gave the man handwarmers, mittens, soda, and food.

"Something that had some vitamins in it," Eli said. "I wanted to help."

When Eli returned to work Monday, he checked the surveillance video to make sure the man received the donations.

The video shows someone pulling up on a BMX bike next to the sleeping homeless man, and then riffling through his stuff.

"To see someone else come and just take advantage and not only take the thing that I had given him but the rest of his possessions," Eli said. "That broke my heart."

Kaylynne Grey works for Sisters of the Road, a charity that feeds and assists homeless people. She says when vulnerable people - like those without homes - are the victims of thefts it has lasting consequences.

"It can really set them back, folks can lose essential documents that they need to access pertinent services or try to access housing or maybe get a job," Grey said.

Grey says the thefts are more likely to happen during the winter, at a time when resources on the street can be scarce and survival is paramount.

"I think it reaffirms that sense of vulnerability and a lack of safety, a lack of privacy that can cause a lot of issues for our community," Grey said.

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