Portland vintage toy store owner says thieves stole irreplaceable items and sense of security

The building’s security camera footage shows what appears to be two people hauling off stacks of collectibles from Billy Galaxy Vintage Toys & Collectibles.

PORTLAND, Oregon — A long-time downtown Portland business owner wants the people who stole from him to return his things and be held accountable.

“Billy Galaxy”, the owner of Billy Galaxy Vintage Toys & Collectibles, said during a chaotic night of protests, thieves took advantage of the situation and made off with thousands of dollars worth of collectibles from his store on West Burnside. Galaxy already knows where the stolen goods ended up.

“It’s not just property, it’s my sense of security that was taken from me. It’s years of work that was taken from me,” Billy Galaxy said.

His toy shop has been apart of the downtown business scene for the last 25 years.

“I do this because I love it, because it’s fun. It’s people’s memories, their aspirations, it’s so ephemeral. It’s just interesting the joy it brings people and the different reasons people collect it,” Galaxy said. “The reason I got into it in first place is because I’m obsessed.”

That passion and obsession are why Billy has guarded his vintage toy store the majority of the last 80-plus nights. Riots and looting associated with downtown demonstrations add insult to injury from Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s stay-home-order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“There were definitely people approaching this business that had ill-intentions, that were deterred by myself,” Galaxy added.

Early in the morning on July 27, he says a few people with ill intentions succeeded. Galaxy has items locked away in storage in the downtown Portland building where the shop sits. When he got to the storage area that morning he found the lock had been messed with and items had been taken. 

He checked the building’s security camera footage from the hallway outside the storage area, which shows what appears to be two people hauling off stacks of goods that were stowed away behind a lock and two separate doors with security codes.

“It was so easy for them to do this that they returned a second night as I suspected they would do and I actually interrupted a crime in progress on July 28,” said Galaxy.

Before he interrupted the crime that night, Billy said they had taken a total of at least $25,000 worth of collectibles.

“For me personally any theft or looting is a little trickier because we cannot just order product to replace something in here. These are all special items that are not necessarily very easy to track down.”

Through the toy collecting community, he tracked down where some of his items are being sold online and even knows where it’s all stored and one of the culprit’s identities.

He said he messaged the woman he believes is selling the stolen items online and she responded on Thursday. He told KGW she agreed to help get him his stuff back.

“We’ve done quite a bit of footwork for the police on their behalf. Hopefully, they can finish it up and get us our stuff back,” Billy said.

But so far he feels the police response has been sub-par.

“The police response has been frustrating. I understand the police are hated right now by a lot of people and they are overworked and stretched too thin and probably lacking resources,” he added.

Portland police told KGW, officers continue to respond to calls for service but protests stretch their resources thin, therefore delaying some response times and dragging out investigations.

“I don’t think what happened to me is necessarily unrelated to the protests. I think people are taking advantage of delayed police response and committing crimes,” Billy told KGW.

Those crimes violate a business owner’s sense of security and hurt their life’s work.

“I’m not going to just roll over and let things happen like that. I mean, I spent my whole life building this business so essentially this is my life. I’m going to protect it by any means necessary.”


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