That Leroy Parsons? Again? (Deep sigh)

A Portland Police officers confiscates stolen bikes during a drug bust in Old Town in 2012. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A few weeks ago while scrolling my inbox I came across a press release from Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt. “Today… Leroy Alfred Parsons plead guilty to three counts of Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Theft in the First Degree. A Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge sentenced Parsons to 50 months in prison,” read the statement.

The name sounded familiar to me so I went to Google and typed, “bikeportland leroy parsons” (pro tip: the best way to search our 17,000 posts is to type “bikeportland” plus whatever you’re looking for). Sure enough, I got several hits. This Parsons guy is probably the most prolific and brazen thief in the history of Portland. This most recent bust involved stolen cars, but his vehicle of choice used to be bicycles.

Here’s a quick and very incomplete rundown of his 20-plus year crime spree:

  • These most recent charges from the DA include unlawful possession of six cars between 2021 and 2022 and an “unlawful amount of meth”.
  • In 2018 we reported that Parsons was sentenced to 25 months in prison and that he’d been arrested over 80 times over 20 years.
  • In 2015 he was caught on camera stealing bikes and then admitted to stealing bikes while being filmed for a local TV news segment.
  • In November 2015 we reported on an exchange Parsons had with a PPB officer where he showed no remorse for stealing bikes. “I promise you I’ll get away with a lot more than I’ll get caught for… So let’s play and see who wins,” he said in a conversation caught on the officer’s body-cam.
  • Later that same year he was sentenced to 30 months in prison for stealing bicycles (and other crimes), which at the time was the longest-ever bike theft related sentence.

Given his long history of brazen crimes, lack of remorse, and repeat victimization of innocent people, it’s a testament to how complicated and embattled Multnomah County’s legal and mental health systems are that Parsons was ever still back on the street without any change in his behavior.

Parsons served only 90 days of his 25 month sentence in 2018. Our only hope is that because his latest sentence involves cars (and not bikes, which often don’t get the same level of concern from law enforcement or the judicial system), he might actually serve a longer sentence. And hopefully it’s enough time for Parsons to get the help he so desperately needs. We all deserve better than to have him return to the streets just to continue his crime spree.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago

It would be an interesting PSU TREC report to dive in deeper to see how much of this barrier to full adoption of cycling as a transport mode / climate solution is being hobbled by a few dedicated POIs who steal and strip or fence the majority of bikes in town.

This revolving door of arrest and release for property crimes is all too common in the US (and has picked up a pace recently) and additionally impacts many bikeshare systems too (some have closed due to it)…unless the mental health and other resources are applied to help break this cycle.

When we – the former directors of The Bikestation – took our tech tour of bike parking facilities in Europe (Spain, Germany, and Netherlands) back in 2006 the one major surprising take away I had was that the majority of the large bike parking services visited existed as job training centers (to break this cycle discussed above) first, and secondarily functioned as bike facilities to park bikes / declutter station areas. (Parking was a means to an end of sorts…government training grants to help pay the bills that cyclists wont pay for secure parking.)

Dan
Dan
1 year ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

Anecdotally, I will choose to drive into downtown rather than bike if I’m not going to a destination with secure bike parking because I’m less worried about my car getting stolen while street parked than my bike. Absolutely the opposite of the behavior we should be promoting.

Lowell
Lowell
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan

I’ve found downtown trips to be an excellent reason to use BikeTown e-bikes. More fun than driving, cheaper than parking, faster than transit, and I don’t have to worry what happens to that bike after I’m done with it.

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan

DAN, Sad but true?: thinking cars are safer from theft than bikes. The theft of even very used cars is all too common in 2022…my partner finally became ‘car-free’ this summer after her 20 YO Subi got stolen out in front of her small business in downtown. Until the recent era [chip shortage and even shortage of used cars] we always thought a multi decade old manual transmission car [non Honda Civic] with moss growing on it was safe from thieves if basic care was taken. But we were wrong.

She ‘traded’ her fentanyl soaked recovered car for an e-bike…but now wonders how she will get any kind of personal insurance coverage for injury/ hit and run now that she no longer has car insurance etc.

Jd
Jd
1 year ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

If she maintains a minimum non-driver auto policy it should cover personal injury/hit and runs. I have one just for this reason and it’s pretty inexpensive.

ActualPractical
ActualPractical
1 year ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

I used to ride everywhere but coming a few strands away from losing my bike slowly made me use it for transportation less and less. Carrying heavier locks had been a hassle too, if I’m mostly out for the ride itself I don’t bring it but then can’t stop.

Tim
Tim
1 year ago

I don’t like saying this…. but he will serve 5-6 months max.
Actions should have appropriate consequences and some people refuse to change…..

Watts
Watts
1 year ago

Given his long history of brazen crimes, lack of remorse, and repeat victimization of innocent people, it’s a testament to how complicated and embattled Multnomah County’s legal and mental health systems are that Parsons was ever still back on the street without any change in his behavior.

“Embattled” is one word, but I think “ineffective” might be better.

I too hope he will get help in prison, but even if he doesn’t, at least while he’s there he won’t be stealing my bike.

Kyle Banerjee
1 year ago

While bike theft is a major downside to living in Portland (it’s the only place I’ve lived where I even had to worry about it), it’s better that he targets bikes than cars.

As much as it sucks, it’s better than having that kind of character barreling down the streets in a couple tons of steel.

Charley
Charley
1 year ago

… hopefully it’s enough time for Parsons to get the help he so desperately needs. We all deserve better than to have him return to the streets just to continue his crime spree.

Hear, hear!

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 year ago
Reply to  Charley

Sounds like he doesn’t want or need help, he just wants to be a bad person and do meth. What he needs is to be taken off the streets forever

“I promise you I’ll get away with a lot more than I’ll get caught for… So let’s play and see who wins,”

Jd
Jd
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Yeah, well that’s the easiest way to look at it.

Matt
Matt
1 year ago

You want to live in a “utopia” that goes light on crime, this is what you get. Happy cycling!

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 year ago

thats methed up!

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago

Nothing will change, the jails are overcrowded; as a non-violent offender he will be released early again, and the cycle will repeat itself.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 year ago

One thing that I fascinating about my fellow Portland folks is their belief that everyone can be changed if they just get the help they need. I grew up in a very violent neighborhood, with a body count that would make PPB blush. I know that there are evil people is this world. I have met them, I grew up with them. They are just bad and they want to do bad things, it’s that simple.

I feel like my fellow progressives who where raised in nice neighborhoods sometime miss this fact about humans: there is and will always be a certain percentage of the population who is just bad, they are evil, they will always prey on the week and anyone that gives them an inch. They need to be removed from society like a cancer is removed from the body. That cancerous mass is never going to do good if it somehow just gets the correct helping hand. No, it needs to be removed before it can do more harm. Some people are just evil.

Steve
Steve
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Do you wonder why the evil people are in the “violent neighborhood” and not the “nice neighborhoods?”

Bill Walters
Bill Walters
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve

Oh, they’re in the nice neighborhoods as well. It’s just that their crimes are more upstream, more abstract and diffuse — sometimes even not technically illegal — so they are less often detected.

Pete
Pete
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

You might want to move to Saudi Arabia because our justice system will never and should never work the way you want it to. Prevention not cure is ‘progressive,’ but one siloed city can never solve that. Take a deeper look at late-capitalism before you advocate for locking thieves up for life and throwing away the key.

Thoman Efterie
Thoman Efterie
1 year ago

But just two weeks ago this same blog told us

Most people don’t enjoy stealing your bike. They do it because they are desperate and need money, or because they’ve slid into a life of crime due to other systemic issues.

I suppose you think Mr. Parsons is the real victim?