Crime Watch: Warning for bus riders; gratitude for bystander

This didn’t happen in West Seattle, but the choosing-to-be-anonymous victim – and the person who helped her – were both headed this way:

Last night I had the unfortunate experience of being robbed while waiting for the Rapid Ride C line downtown. I was at the stop on the corner of 3rd and Pike at 9 pm after my evening class let out when a man grabbed my iPhone right out of my hands and ran away with it before I could even get a good look at him.

I was shaken and upset and I want to warn other bus riders of this danger. The stop really didn’t feel unsafe, even at that time of night because the corner is so well-lit and there were LOTS of people around. The officer that took my report said that this crime is very common in that location.

A very nice young woman stepped up to loan me her phone to call 911. She missed her bus to West Seattle in order to let me place my call. I’m trying to focus my mental images of the night on her good deed rather than the jarring experience of being a crime victim.

28 Replies to "Crime Watch: Warning for bus riders; gratitude for bystander"

  • WSGIRL November 8, 2012 (3:49 pm)


  • twofoursix November 8, 2012 (4:00 pm)

    It’s also a good idea to stand with your back up against the buildings at that stop. That way, no one can come at you from behind, and you can better see your surroundings.

  • neighbor November 8, 2012 (4:08 pm)

    I have read recently that this type of theft is happening in several spots in Seattle.
    Because of this trend, I’m very defensive when using my phone on the sidewalks and keep track of people around me and from any direction. Thanks for sharing to increase awareness.

  • Sbone November 8, 2012 (6:14 pm)

    Seems the iPhone is the device of choice for this type of street crime. A good friend of mine had a gun stuck in his face for his iPhone while he was sitting on his stoop. Not to blame the victim, but cell phone zombies on our streets these days look like they would make easy targets.

  • West Seattle luv November 8, 2012 (6:45 pm)

    This type of theft is a growing issue. I was robbed in the same exact manner in white center while waiting for the bus at 7am. I had gotten out my phone to check the bus schedule and had it stolen right out of my hand. I too was blessed with a generous bystander who let me borrow there phone. In this day and age people are always using their smart phones out in public and you don’t really think about the fact that you are holding a several hundred dOllar computer in your hand that can easily be stolen. Thanks for posting this story and hopefully making people more aware of the issue.

  • Chris W November 8, 2012 (7:28 pm)

    So sorry thus happened to you, and thanks for the reminder. I hope you somehow get it back.

  • w November 8, 2012 (7:40 pm)

    Thank you for reporting this. I feel like this area has gone downhill in recent years. In prominent, well populated areas like this, it is important for all of us not only to notice any unsavory characters that may be lurking, but also to see that THEY are the ones who are made to feel uncomfortable. (in obscure, deserted areas, best just to leave.) Would be nice if metro security would prevent non-riders from loitering at stops also – if someone is waiting for a bus, they should be able to say which number, and to board that bus when it comes.

  • Marcus M November 8, 2012 (7:46 pm)

    w – have you been to 3rd & Pike lately? There is already a heavy police presence but it’s basically an open air bazaar for drug dealers & their customers. Crackheads will do anything to score their next fix, and $500 iPhones make a perfect target. No matter how important that Tweet might seem at the time, it’s best to leave it in your purse/pocket until you are on the bus.

  • WTF November 8, 2012 (8:10 pm)

    That stop is NOTORIOUS! After Metro clustered the stops downtown when 99 construction started, this stop became a hang out for more riff-raff (that’s being nice) than almost any area of DT.

    I, too, have taken classes DT and used that stop to head home to WS. Bike cops regularly patrol both sides of the street at this stop, I’m just sorry they weren’t there for you!

  • karen November 8, 2012 (8:16 pm)

    that is the worse bus stop any time of day–I never feel safe there–well worth walking south to 3rd and spring or hoping on first bus that comes along and getting off at 3rd and spring to wait for your bus.

  • I. Ponder November 8, 2012 (10:37 pm)

    Street creatures resell bus transfers there openly for $1. I saw one guy with a full pad of fresh transfers. I asked the bus driver about this. He said they get stolen when drivers are helping handicapped riders get situated. Aren’t there transit police?

  • carlton November 8, 2012 (11:17 pm)

    Third Avenue in downtown is not being cleaned up and never will be.I have to grow eyes behind my head waiting for the bus. It’s a mental institution and open air drug store in front of Walgreens.

  • jedifarfy November 9, 2012 (5:49 am)

    That really sucks! I’ve been extra cautious and keep my phone in my hand in my hoodie. Way too many sketchy characters around and they for sure know the area better. So horrible.

  • West Seattle since 1979 November 9, 2012 (7:14 am)

    Another thing I’ve heard is that they’ll ask you for the time, and if you pull out your phone to check it, they’ll grab it.

  • wundrgrrrl November 9, 2012 (8:22 am)

    Just the other day I sent an email to Metro about the 3rd & Pike stop (northbound) in the a.m… the riff raff and multiple “transactions” that occur there daily before 8am! It seems like only a matter of time before someone gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    In the afternoons I usually see police presence on bikes around the 3rd & Pike stops. But in the a.m., the only police presence is pulling over cars in the bus zone. Seems like they could divert some of those resources to foot patrol.

  • datamuse November 9, 2012 (9:53 am)

    Recent years? 3rd and Pike has been dodgy for as long as I’ve lived in Seattle (16 years, for what that’s worth). Definitely a place to keep alert.

  • pjmanley November 9, 2012 (11:22 am)

    Catching any bus after about 7 p.m. is a completely different experience than during rush hour. Way back when, when the tunnel was being dug in the late 1980’s, I used to have $100 stashed in my underwear after finishing my restaurant shift, at a virtually dark bus stop on 3rd Avenue. My technique to ward off lurking criminal types was to immediately engage in a conversation with the most normal looking dudes at the stop, and keep conversing until the 1:30 a.m. bus arrived. It worked. I never got robbed in two years.

    I suggest people need to talk to the other riders more, establishing a safety in numbers group presence whenever they can. This means taking out the ear buds folks, and keep that phone hidden. At least until you’re safely on the bus. We’re easy prey when we’re not engaged with our fellow citizens. We’ve got to get away from that, for self-preservation.

  • pjmanley November 9, 2012 (11:28 am)

    @wundrgrrrl: That’s what we get when our street cops are turned into revenue generators instead of focusing on public safety first. I don’t want to get all political, but most cops I know would rather be cleaning vermin off the streets instead of ticketing the unfortunate driver who makes a wrong turn or stops on the wrong place. All the more reason we need to resolve the multiple ongoing SPD crises and get things working again. Leadership, Mr. Mayor?

  • Livin' in West Seattle since '91 November 9, 2012 (11:52 am)

    Sorry this happened to you. This is a trend that is only going to get worse. My child (in San Francisco) has had her iPhone snatched 2x, and many of her friends have had their iPhones and iPads stolen as well. One was even badly beaten in order for them to get his iPad. The San Francisco police told my daughter that because very few people carry cash any longer, the thieves now are targeting something they can get quick cash for, our smart phones. Best advice is to keep them out of sight at all times, use a headset when you talk on the phone, or earphones when you listen to music, and be aware of who is around you when you do take your phone out of its hiding place.

  • D-Mom November 9, 2012 (1:15 pm)

    pjmanley – I like your approach. Let’s put the phones away, pull the ear buds out and start talking to each other. I think most of us do forget we are holding $500 in our hands while we’re not even aware of who’s standing next to us.

  • TM November 9, 2012 (5:57 pm)

    iPhone/iPad owners can download “find my iPhone” app and get your device set up so when you lose it or it gets taken you can locate it, send a message or alarm, or wipe your info clear remotely. Not necessarily the answer for 3rd and Pike gang (I used to be at that stop daily, agree with the drug dealing and general vice comments) but a smart idea regardless. You’ll need to register each device and use another iOS device to take any of the actions.

  • waterworld November 9, 2012 (8:35 pm)

    Metro transit is not policed by SPD. The transit police are a unit of the King County Sheriff’s Office. So if you have concerns about transit policing, you should take it to the Sheriff, not SPD. I think there is contact information for the transit police on the Metro website.

  • MellyMel November 9, 2012 (9:00 pm)

    A recent transplant to West Seattle from Chicago was just telling me about this being very common on metro rides there. The tactic has a nick-name:

  • Charlie November 9, 2012 (10:25 pm)

    After reading these comments, I decided to open my eyes and watch my surroundings at 3rd and Pike tonight on the way home (about 9pm). During my 20 minute wait for a bus (2 Rapid Rides northbound, none south), I saw a man flash a large wad of currency. I thought it so foolish until I realized he was selling the “dollar transfers” mentioned by I Ponder. I saw him sell at least 10 during my wait. That’s $22.50 Metro will never see. That was bad enough, but then on the way home, the bus driver actually gave another transfer away to someone waiting at another stop for a completely different bus. Someone really needs to rethink this transfer system before Metro introduces their next fare hike.

  • ~~HockeyWitch~~ November 10, 2012 (8:01 pm)

    Sorry to hear this happened to you. Its so sad that there are such SUCKY people who feel they need to take from others, who work hard for what they have, instead of working hard themselves to get the things they want/need. Glad you weren’t hurt, sorry that your secure feeling was taken from you. Good on you for reporting it… and sharing it here for others to know about it, so they can try to keep it from happening to them as well. Stay safe everyone.

  • David November 12, 2012 (11:06 am)

    It was really great that she was able to help you out as I’m sure it made the situation a lot less scary for you.

  • JonF November 13, 2012 (2:00 pm)

    to those thinking this area has been going downhill in recent years, has me rather confused and thinking maybe those are a bit out of touch with downtown. this area has been a hotspot for crime for decades if not more.

    there has been *some* attempts to clean it up, but nowhere near my comfort level despite having lived in worse cities than Seattle and in general more tolerant than most.

    Tip – walk further to stops south or closer to University St or the opposite direction if you want to lower the chance of being an easy target. It’s worth it to me (and should be to you) to do this. Even coming out of a movie theatre late, I’ve been approached by people trying to take advantage. Well at least until they notice I wear leather boots downtown.

    Stay safe out there. Keep your pricey gadgets hidden and out of sight. They might as well be 5 hundred dollar bills out in the open.

  • Cinder November 17, 2012 (12:36 am)

    My son was riding the 120 when a person sat next to him and asked him if he had any spare money my son gave him two dollars ( my son would give you the shirt off of his back if you needed one)The person seen that he had a becu card in his wallet MY SON GAVE HIM THE ONLY MONEY HE HAD IN HIS WALLET) and the person began to try and talk him into going to an atm to draw out money, He got off the bus with my son and asked to use my sons phone to call his wife , he than took my sons phone put it in his back pocket and screamed I need money at my son. many witnessed this transpire which spooked the person who than gave the phone back. and said I wasnt going to keep your phone but I need money. My son said Bleep you and ran home. We called 911 This guy was wearing a black jacket with m and ms all over it.(like the candy)He has been known to hang out in the north Delridge area.Around the shell station. If you see him call the police. IT SADDENS ME THAT YOU CANT EVEN TRY TO HELP SOME ONE OUT WITH OUT THE FEAR OF THEM ROBBING YOU.

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