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Olympic Crimetown

Eugene is not only TrackTown USA, according to a press release from the Eugene Police Department, while the Olympic Trials are under way, it’s also a Mecca for thieves. The Trials will bring top-tier athletes, tourists, music, good times and, the EPD says, an increase in crime.

EPD “would like to remind citizens of the anticipated crime increase everywhere, not just the vicinity of the Trials,” the release says. It continues, “Our area will be a target-rich environment for criminals due to the increase in tourists, local residents on vacation, as well as all the distractions and congestion that a large event of this nature attracts.”

The police say that during the 2008 Olympic Trials at Hayward Field, “crime went up around the entire city.” Between June 24 and July 9, “EPD recorded 83 burglaries, 119 thefts and 59 stolen vehicles.”

An uptick in crime wasn’t the only side effect of the 2008 Trials. While Oregon expects an economic boost as a whole from the athletes and their entourages coming to town, businesses close to Hayward Field reported that they lost, rather than gained, during the 2008 events. This time around Studio One Café and other businesses formed the “Hayward Historic District” to ensure that the eats and treats within walking distance of the track will get their due.

Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County Oregon (CVALCO) is reporting that lodging for the Trials is a moving target. “While most of room inventory has been nearly booked to capacity over the last few months preceding the Olympic Trials, we are now seeing some last-minute cancellations,” Lisa Lawton, director of community relations for CVALCO, announced. That could be bad news for the hotels, but good news for last-minute tourists looking for somewhere to stay. Eugene’s Craigslist is still littered with places for rent, cheaply, only blocks from Hayward.

On the celebrity front, word is the E! show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is coming to town to film an episode with 1976 gold medal decathalete Bruce Jenner on June 22.

Local music will be getting a boost from the Olympic Trials. Satin Love Orchestra, Halie Loren and The Essentials are among the Eugene favorites that will be playing at the festival during the Trials. For a full list go to tracktown12.gotracktownusa.com