Grain Miller employees on edge after crime spree

Grain Miller employees on edge after crime spree

WHITAKER NEIGHBORHOOD, EUGENE, Ore. - Car vandalism, theft and harassment was all caught on surveillance video at Grain Millers Plant this week.

Employees told KVAL News they fear for their safety. Four separate crimes hit workers at the plant on Madison and Fourth Avenues in just eight days.

Grain Millers managers are responding with upgraded security measures, but also said what's really needed are more police officers patrolling the Whitaker neighborhood.

Security cameras captured a thief searching for his next target in the parking lot of Grain millers.

"He'll typically go all the way around the vehicle looking in with a flashlight, really, seeing if there is anything of any value or interest in the vehicle," said Vice President of Operations for Grain Millers, Keith Horton.

According to police records, the plant is a hot spot for vandals.

"I started up my pick up and it sounded like a tank, so I shut it off and looked underneath there and noticed it was cut off," said Grain Miller sanitation worker, Michael Watts.

Watts' car was hit while he was working to make ends meet.

"They really dove into my budget," said Watts. "When they took my catalytic converter, it really took food off my table."

Grain Millers' response: upgraded security cameras, lighting, a guard and a plea.

"I would like to see the Eugene Police Department focus on patrolling the area," said Horton. "We're not far from the Eugene Mission, Union Pacific Railway. Transient traffic around the railway is quite heavy."

But the tune from local law enforcement remains the same.

"The police will respond and be as proactive as they can given the staffing levels," said Eugene Police Public Information Officer Melinda Kletzok.

"The responses normally come the following day," said Horton. "We're not seeing this in a real timely manner."

But is the police department confident that residents and their belongings will be safe with the level of enforcement in Eugene?

"It's going to be a combination of police working with the community, community working with the police to provide a level of safety that everyone wants," said Kletzok.