Serial Portland car thief sentenced to more than 4 years in prison

A 55-year-old repeat car thief was sentenced to 50 months in prison on Monday for stealing six cars between 2021 and 2022, once while carrying meth and another time while carrying a window-breaking tool, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office said.

Leroy Parsons of Portland pleaded guilty on Friday to three counts of unauthorized use of a vehicle, possession of a controlled substance and first-degree theft, court records show. He was ordered to have no contact with his victims, one of whom he must pay $1,500 in restitution, according to court records.

Motor vehicle theft in Portland has increased dramatically in the past five years, and an analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive shows the rate is expected to surpass an all-time record by year’s end.

The cars Parsons stole ranged from newer models, including a 2022 Hyundai and 2017 Subaru, to older cars, such as a 2000 Dodge. Law enforcement found all of the cars within days or weeks of their being reported stolen, oftentimes with broken windows, damaged ignitions and discarded license plates, the district attorney’s office said.

A Portland police officer arrested Parsons Oct. 13 in Northwest Portland after seeing him driving a 1999 Chevy Suburban without license plates. It had extensive damage to its steering column. Parsons agreed to park the car after the officer threw spike strips under its tires, according to a probable cause affidavit. Police learned he had multiple open warrants, including for unlawful use of a vehicle, court records show.

A Vancouver man reported the Chevy stolen in June. Parsons told police he bought the car for $500 several months earlier in St. Johns.

Parsons is originally from New York and has lived in the Portland metro area for the past 25 years. He told police he lost housing over the past year and had been staying on-and-off with his girlfriend and her father in North Portland, court records show. He has 20 previous felony convictions, including for attempted robbery, theft and possessing meth, according to court records.

In the first nine months of 2022, people in Portland have reported more than 8,000 stolen cars. But Portland police, after investigating reports, believed they had enough evidence to seek criminal charges — unlawful use of a vehicle or possession of a stolen vehicle — against suspects in only 954 car theft cases, or 12%, according to Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. Of those, prosecutors have pursued charges in 687 cases, or 72%, his office said.

— Catalina Gaitán,, @catalingaitan_

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