Rico Loverde owns Monster Smash Burgers, a food cart in Southeast Portland.
Loverde said he was looking forward to the start of spring, hoping for a boost in foot traffic. Then on Thursday, the owner said his surveillance footage showed two people taking off in their car with three, large propane tanks. Pure Oxygen Tank
Loverde said the total cost of that is about a thousand dollars to replace, and he had to shut down for days.
\"We were not able to track down new propane tanks in time. There’s been, from my understanding, a lot of propane theft lately and not just small little tanks that houseless people are using for camping and stuff like that. This is something bigger,\" he said.
Loverde recently expanded to another food cart location but said he's now worried about the future of his business.
\"The amount of chaos that comes with it you know you start doubting what you’re doing, and I know others are feeling the same way,\" he said.
Restaurants are seeing this too. At Bar Casa Vale, the owner said he's had about 40 smaller tanks stolen in the last year.
Now Nate Tilden said he's trying to adapt.
\"Ways to make it harder for people to get in. I’ve welded bars over our doors, so they can't be pried open. Is it working? Not necessarily. But I don’t know. It feels like we have to try,\" Tilden said.
Both owners admit with small margins, this is just another hurdle.
\"We’re trying to have a place for our employees to come that’s safe and for our customers to come that’s comfortable. We need heat outside during a cold winter night so, it’s hard to do business when we’re constantly being kicked,\" Tilden said.
Medical Oxygen Tank Loverde said he does plan to add more cameras, but he's also found by the time he gets an alert of activity, it's usually too late to respond.