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.