Two days ago, we updated the saga of accused catalytic-converter thief Joel Lund, described by police as an “active” suspect. The latest update: Just about 24 hours ago, Lund got out of jail. (Thanks to the WSB’er who found this on the King County Jail Register before we did.) Here’s what our research has turned up: After he pleaded not guilty yesterday to the one charge currently against him, malicious mischief, the judge agreed to let him out of jail provided he participates in the Community Center for Alternative Programs, which requires weekday check-ins and classes at a facility downtown. The conditions also included drug/alcohol/mental-health treatment, according to court documents. King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson Dan Donohoe tells WSB that prosecutors opposed letting Lund out at all. His bail had been set at $20,000; he was arrested February 15th for the second time in three days, and he had remained behind bars since then, until yesterday’s decision by Judge Theresa Doyle. Potential burglary and theft charges listed on the jail register remain under investigation, with nothing formal filed yet, according to Donohue. Lund is due back in court for trial-date-setting on March 17th.
P.S. We mentioned in our report the other day that we had been working on a longer story. Since the case keeps moving faster than we do, we’re just going to add the background from that story – on the current case and previous ones – here, after the jump:
At the time of the original arrest reported by police, Lund was booked into the King County Jail just before 3:30 pm on Sunday, February 13th, and according to jail records, he was out, at 9 pm Monday, February 14th.
That apparent freedom lasted a little more than a day. Jail records show that just before 11:30 pm on Tuesday, February 15th, Lund was rebooked, on suspicion of burglary, trafficking in stolen property, and malicious mischief.
The one charge filed against him so far is second-degree malicious mischief. That’s the charge filed in connection with the incident for which police arrested him on February 13th. The charging document calls Lund “a prolific thief who has been arrested for stealing catalytic converters in the past in Seattle and other local jurisdictions,” selling the metal to recyclers, and notes that he has been booked into the King County Jail 15 times in the past five years.
As for the specifics of the case: The probable-cause document says a passer-by spotted Lund crawling under a black pickup truck on Erskine Way that afternoon, then emerging with something wrapped up in a black hoodie. The passerby called 911, and also spotted Lund near a purple pickup that had been circling the block. When police arrived, they found a second man in that truck, along with a woman identified as Lund’s girlfriend; they said they were there to pick him up. Police also noted the man taking off his jacket as he stepped out of the truck, and throwing it onto the seat to conceal a drug pipe.
In the back of the purple pickup, according to the court document, police found “numerous tools and bags” – including items matching what the witness had seen Lund carrying earlier, a backpack containing a saw “typically used to cut metal” as well as a black hoodie wrapped around a catalytic converter. Police went back to check the truck under which Lund had been seen, and discovered its catalytic converter had been recently cut away. They also field-tested the pipe found in the purple pickup, and say it was positive for meth residue. Both Lund and the man from the purple pickup (whose name we’re not using, since there’s no evidence he has been charged yet) were both arrested.
So what about his background? He pleaded guilty to burglary and theft in September of last year, as the charging document points out. He was given a suspended sentence of one year, and a 52-day jail sentence (which he’d already fulfilled by the time of his plea). Checking the court documents for this case, it tells the story of three crimes: One, a burglary in the 5900 block of 31st SW in February of 2010, targeting the home of a woman who was away caring for a sick family member. Items stolen included jewelry, tools, a brass Buddha statue, and brass bells. Evidence linking Lund to the crime included DNA from cigarette butts left at the scene (no one in the victim’s family was a smoker). Two, a catalytic-converter theft in the 4800 block of 38th SW one afternoon in July 2010, with a witness who lived nearby telling police he recognized Lund as the thief because he’d known him for years. Three, he was found in what was supposed to be a vacant apartment in the 5900 block of Fauntleroy Way, where he claimed he was just doing laundry and charging his MP3 player – though he had no permission to be in the unit.
Before that, in December 2009, the document also notes, he pleaded guilty to theft after being caught with stolen copper wire in a West Seattle parking garage. We looked up the documents in that case; in July of 2009, he was found in the Jefferson Square garage with copper wire taken from the Capco Plaza (Junction QFC, Altamira Apartments) construction site. He told police he had received the wire from a known metal thief who wanted him to sell it to a recycler with the use of a business license Lund claimed he had for such sales. For that case, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, according to court documents. (The “standard range” was listed as 0-60 days, with the maximum 5 years.)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Other cases go back further than the online records do, so we don’t have full information on sentences in those past cases. He apparently never has spent time in state prison, since we asked the Department of Corrections for a photo, and they don’t have one, which means he hasn’t been in their system. There is one more piece to the current story, involving an ongoing investigation by an Eastside police agency that ultimately included West Seattle surveillance, but that will have to wait for another story, as the documentation is lengthy. Given the fact Lund is out now, we didn’t want to hold back this part of the story any longer. We promise to keep following up.