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'Crime is getting out of control:' Katie O'Brien's robbed at gunpoint twice in a month

KATU Portland logo KATU Portland 11/3/2021 Frances Lin, KATU Staff

Oleg Pilipenko, the owner of Katie O'Brien's, a bar in Northeast Portland, says crime in the city is out of control and the Portland Police Bureau needs to step up.

"It's the second robbery in the last month," he said. "They both were at gunpoint."

On Monday night, robbers pointed a gun in the face of his employee.

The employee is OK. KATU was told nobody was hurt.

At around 11:55 p.m., a robber dressed in all black came through the front door and pointed a gun at one of the bartenders.

That suspect got away with about a thousand dollars from the cash register.

But money isn't Pilipenko's main concern right now.

He said it's hard enough to find employees during this pandemic.

And now, his employees are afraid to work.

"We're not talking about financially now. Right now, we're pretty much doing it to keep our crews safe," Pilipenko said. "We just changed our hours, we're going to reduce it, and we're going to close at midnight."

He said insurance companies aren't helpful either.

"You don't claim the insurance for such things, because otherwise, your rate's going to go up next time, or you're going to be dropped out. It's a common thing right now in our industry," he said.

Police have responded. 

"In the last 30 days, it's the same cop coming here. He doesn't even have a backup. He's the only guy in the whole area around here. He's a nice guy. He tried to help as he can," said Pilipenko.

KATU's Frances Lin reached out to Portland Police Bureau.

This is what they responded with: "Officers responded to 2809 Northeast Sandy (I believe it’s Katie Obrien’s Bar) on reports of a robbery at gunpoint. Officers spoke with several employees and searched the area for the described suspect, but were unable to locate him. These types of cases are usually typically assigned to detectives, however I imagine it hasn’t worked its way through the system just yet."

KATU reported on Portland Police Bureau's staffing issue this week.

Here's what Sgt. Josh Silverman told KATU recently: "With staffing levels like these, we're really, it's really a good time to commit crimes. We're practically incentivizing it."

"He's just trying to do the job as he can; unfortunately, he doesn't have the ability to do that," Pilipenko said.

Pilipenko called out City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, saying she needs to address the police staffing issue.

"Our commissioner, who's thinking about bringing in an extra hundred police officers," said Pilipenko, "I think she needs to finally make a decision if she wants to run this city, or she needs to step down and let somebody to do that. Because it's her personal responsibility to protect the residents of the city."

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