Update: Smash-grab suspect charged, bail reduced to $25,000

August 13, 2010 at 5:22 pm | In Crime, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

50-year-old Stephen Hayes Kirk is now charged with three counts of second-degree burglary, all from cases in Burien; the court documents mention that investigators have been looking into many other break-ins, including those in West Seattle, but no charges are filed in other cases so far. His bail has been reduced to $25,000 from the $150,000 set yesterday (which is what documents indicate prosecutors requested again today). We obtained the photo at left from the Department of Corrections.

Continuing to add more details from court documents: The “probable cause” information mentions 32 smash-and-grab burglaries that Seattle and Burien Police and the King County Sheriff’s Office have been investigating and says they began on June 15th. Since they had the same MO – glass smashed, vending machine(s) or cash register stolen – investigators say that strongly suggests the same person or persons was/were responsible. Their big break came, the court documents say, when they made a traffic stop on July 24th and the driver told them he knew who had burglarized a store on Des Moines Memorial Drive – a man he knew as “Steve” who drives a red pickup truck with “East Pierce County Fire Department” on its driver’s side door. Detectives reviewed video from a 7-11 near the store that had been burglarized and found a man and truck in the video that appeared to match the description.

Another clue, the documents say, came when they found the cash register from the July 29th Uptown Espresso break-in in West Seattle in the parking lot of Puget Sound Credit Union on Airport Way South – surveillance video from the credit union showed what appeared to be the same man and pickup truck. They circled back with the tipster from the traffic stop, who then told him he had witnessed the burglary he’d mentioned. Detectives ultimately got a full name on their suspect by checking with a scrap yard in Georgetown, asking if they had any customers matching the description.

The court documents say they subsequently got a court order to put a tracking device on Kirk’s pickup truck. That was done by a King County Sheriff’s Detective on August 6th – last Friday. Among other things, according to the documents, the tracking device placed his pickup near the two Admiral District smash-and-grab break-ins earlier this week – Luciano’s Pizza on Sunday morning (photo right) and Admiral Shoe Repair on Monday morning. He was arrested early Wednesday, with most of that story told in the separate court/police document we reported on yesterday – except for one detail: Officers found a “large amount of loose change” in Kirk’s pockets, but he claimed it was because he’d been panhandling at a nearby store when someone ran up to him, gave him all that change, then ran away.

Kirk’s arraignment – the hearing at which he would enter a plea – is set for August 26th. We’ll be checking with prosecutors regarding whether more charges might be filed before then.

19 Comments

  1. Typical. Now he can commit more crimes while waiting for this one to go to trial.

    Comment by Jeff — 5:27 pm August 13, 2010 #

  2. Gotta love a liberal justice system that favors the criminals over the victims. Sigh.

    Comment by Cheryl — 5:32 pm August 13, 2010 #

  3. Glad you published his photo. Now we can keep an eye out for him.

    Comment by Kate K — 5:59 pm August 13, 2010 #

  4. And we should be suprised why??? … sigh …

    Comment by Fellow Citizen — 6:24 pm August 13, 2010 #

  5. Good detective work. Bail reduced to $25,000. Is it King County or is it what we should expect from our Criminal Justice system now?

    Comment by KT — 7:15 pm August 13, 2010 #

  6. Sounds like good police work to me. Wish the bail would be higher though…Anyone else think he looks like Patrick Dempsey after a nasty bender?

    Comment by Steve-o — 7:28 pm August 13, 2010 #

  7. @Steve-O: I was thinking the *exact* same thing – he so does! LOL

    Comment by S5 — 7:49 pm August 13, 2010 #

  8. He Looks really familiar. I remember walking in the Junction and seeing what looks like this guy, pacing around. Walking in the bars but not stopping or buying a drink. Then pacing around through the intersections. my friend and I both took note.

    Comment by newnative — 9:48 pm August 13, 2010 #

  9. How can we change our system to be like the state of Virginia’s? They have beautiful roadways with the good old chain gangs still out working all day. We don’t need more huge prisons- just more folks like this out “serving” the communities that they inflict their crimes on. Just visualize: Clean roads leading up our freeways and around town and gardens which support the elderly and low income families with produce..

    Comment by Jack — 9:52 pm August 13, 2010 #

  10. Our criminal justice system here disgusts me. How did we get here, to a place where a guy with 90 prior warrants gets to walk out of jail on $2500 bond – which his sister will doubtless put up for him.
    .
    Not that he’s beat up a cop or anything like that (/end sarcasm), but he has cost several our our neighborhood businesses each a week or two’s profits through his willful vandalism and theft.
    .
    Why does he get out so cheaply, when even his original bail was inadequate to the breadth of his crimes? And how do we change this?

    Comment by lenguamor — 11:01 pm August 13, 2010 #

  11. The constitution of the State of Washington specifically provides for bail for anyone charged with a crime, other than one that carries the death penalty. More often than not, defendants are released on their own recognizance, with some conditions imposed. In deciding whether to require bail, the court considers whether the person is a flight risk or not, whether there is a likelihood that the person will commit a violent crime while on release, and whether there is a likelihood that the defendant will intimidate witnesses or obstruct justice.
    .
    If the court does set bail, it must not be “excessive.” The general rule is that it must be reasonable in light of all the circumstances, which is pretty subjective. It is improper for a court to set bail arbitrarily high to effectively preclude an eligible defendant from gaining release. If a defendant’s financial situation is such that he won’t be able to post much anyway, then it’s not unusual for the court to set bail at a relatively low amount.
    .
    So for a guy of limited financial means, who is not likely to commit a violent offense (damaging property in the course of a burglary is not considered violent), and who is reasonably likely to appear in court, a low bail amount is appropriate. I don’t know if this guy is poor, although it seems likely, nor do I know if he’s someone who will show up for court appearances. I’m just saying this is the analysis the court would undertake.
    .
    Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that if a family member goes through a bail bondsman, he or she person will likely have to secure the bond with real estate. (Bail bondsmen take a flat fee of, say 10% of the bail amount, plus a security interest; then the bondsman posts the actual bail.) A defendant who might otherwise skip is more likely to show up in court if he knows his sibling or parent has put a home on the line.
    .
    Changing all this would require amending the state constitution, at a minimum. The excessive bail clause is in the federal constitution as well.

    Comment by waterworld — 12:35 am August 14, 2010 #

  12. Good to know. Messed up, but good to know.

    Comment by lenguamor — 1:04 am August 14, 2010 #

  13. Thanks to WSB for getting & posting all this info!

    Comment by Joyce — 11:44 am August 14, 2010 #

  14. Guilty until proved innocent seems to be the concept few of you get, posting as you do.

    It seems unfair until you are unjustly accused, then it is a life-saver. A big part of the ability to foment revolution was the closed justice system in the early 1700′s. I’m just surprised they were legally allowed to put a tracking device on the guy’s auto…and it seems to have helped….

    Comment by Marc — 12:45 pm August 14, 2010 #

  15. Does anyone else thinks he bears a resemblance to Jeff Bridges (aka ‘The Dude’)?

    Comment by Dawson — 1:49 pm August 14, 2010 #

  16. Tracy, I would be keen to know whether Mr. Kirk makes bail or not. If you should find out, please pass that along, won’t you?
    .
    As I understand from a previous post, this fellow has failed to appear in court on previous charges. (Of that much, we know he is guilty.) Although that doesn’t qualify him for the same kind of flight-risk status as, say, the Barefoot Bandido, it does suggest that he doesn’t exactly take a judge’s orders seriously.
    .
    While smash-and-grab is not an assault, it is a violent crime, and Mr. Kirk is already suspected of committing several such crimes. To my mind, that’s reason enough to slap him with a bail amount that will keep him put until he’s tried or released.

    Comment by DP — 5:18 pm August 14, 2010 #

  17. I’ll be watching the case closely including covering subsequent court appearances to the best of our ability and checking the jail register a couple times a day in the meantime. Still in as of 30 seconds ago.

    Comment by WSB — 5:24 pm August 14, 2010 #

  18. That there is some good police work. Bravo! Important to remember that there is often a lot going on behind the scenes at the same time people are complaining about the police doing nothing. Case in point…..

    Comment by islewrite — 8:22 pm August 14, 2010 #

  19. Just want to say, thanks so much for the picture and the report. Of course, responsible people will stand up for the legal principle of presumption of innocence; but we also deserve to be informed about potential or immediate threats. After all, the judicial process isn’t exactly speedy.
    Good job, WSB.

    Comment by wsgal — 8:38 pm August 14, 2010 #

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