Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308
Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 2:38 p.m.
Tyler Cossey owns “The Store On Thor” Street and, along with his staff, Cossey tries to provide customers a safe and convenient place to shop.
However, nearby Camp Hope has created some serious security challenges.
“The biggest one is, just threats to the employees. I mean, these people are all armed,” Cossey said.
Inside Cossey’s back office, you’ll find a collection of weapons taken from people trying to steal from the store.
“Gas powered BB gun we confiscated. And then, we also have the hammer. Guy tried to walk behind the counter with a hammer and we did not allow that to happen,” added Cossey.
With the help of surveillance cameras, Cossey has watched property crime, within a quarter mile of the encampment, increase 81 percent.
Violent crimes have jumped 114 percent.
“Theft is normalized. I’ll catch someone stealing, they’ll just laugh it off and they’ll think they can still make the purchase and we’re like, ‘No, get out of the store. We’ve gotta have you move on’. And, we’re trying to make the point that we’re not tolerating it. Yeah, you can try to steal from us, but you’re going to end up on the wall the next day,” Cossey lamented.
On one of the store’s interior wall, Cossey has posted the photos of 45 people Cossey says, have tried to rip him off. But Cossey adds, new security at the encampment has dramatically reduced his problems with the remaining campers.
However, other nearby businesses, like Fred Meyer, blame Camp Hope for a dramatic loss of their customers, merchandise, and staff.
“We’ve have realized a huge spike in crime, of all kinds, in and around our property everyday, and at all times. “We’ve had our shopping carts stolen on a daily basis and, sometimes brought back, but broken and burnt up,” detailed Jesse Smith, General manager, Fred Meyer.
Nearby residents, who live next to Camp Hope, are also struggling to protect their property.
“They were swiping our water and we’d find the hose stretched out to the dang sidewalk,” said Shirley Jensen, who lives on a fixed income.
That’s why there are now padlocks on the Jensen’s hose bib, gate and mailbox. The couple decided to raise the height of their fence in the hopes of keeping campers out of their yard.
“There’s nothing out there .Why were they coming up there on the front porch? To try to break in,” asked Jensen.
Shirley, and her husband John, are among dozens of people who have signed declarations claiming the encampment is a neighborhood nuisance.
One man says campers forced him to turn his home into Fort Knox.
Another worries about his four year-old’s safety.
“You can’t let him be out front, alone at all. We’ve had fairy lights stripped out of our yard, wheelbarrow stolen,” said James Jenkins.
And that’s why nearby property and business owners are hoping the community can find a safe and speedy way to decommission Camp Hope.