West Seattle Crime Watch: Car theft on cam; burglary attempt; more

February 15, 2013 at 12:16 pm | In Crime, West Seattle news | 14 Comments

Today’s West Seattle Crime Watch roundup starts with video that might help solve a car theft:

CAR THEFT ON VIDEO: Tracy published this video to YouTube. He got it from a neighbor’s camera after his navy blue 2012 Subaru Outback (WA plate A128625) was stolen Thursday morning near 33rd and Hinds (map). The video shows Tracy’s car being driven away, and Tracy suspects the two males shown earlier in the clip are the thieves. If they aren’t, they are certainly witnesses, because, Tracy explained in an online chat answering our followup questions, the street in the video is a dead-end driveway and his house is the only thing they would have been walking toward. Tracy says a witness who saw the car go by afterward noticed two males inside. If you see the car and/or know who the people in the video are, contact police.

BURGLARY ATTEMPT THIS MORNING: From Mel in Westwood/Roxhill:

Just wanted to let the blog know that we had an attempted break in at our house today, it’s in the 34th/Henderson area [map]. Happened about 9:15, I had just left the house for work about 8:40. We live on an alley and they came in through our alley gate We have an alarm and it stopped them. they kicked in our door and then the alarm went off, and we have a sturdy door that we must now replace. They kicked it and heard the alarm and ran, according to the police. Alarm company called me, police were dispatched and showed up pretty quickly–i had asked my neighbor to head over and check things out and she met them. They waited for me to get home. they had checked the place carefully. They said there has been an uptick in burglaries in this area, and to especially be on the lookout for old u haul trucks, as these scumbags are using them to clear out entire houses. They also walked the house with me and gave me other safety tips re doors, locks, using 3 inch screws to secure your door/deadbolts, etc. Nice guys.

A reminder that a new neighborhood council is forming in Mel’s area – Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights for now – and public safety will be on next month’s agenda. If you’re interested, the Facebook group is here, and the invite for the March 6th meeting is here.

Ahead, three more reports, including a hit-run victim looking for witnesses, and two reports of suspicious circumstances:

First, the hit-run, from Phil:

My car (a silver 2007 Subaru Legacy) was hit while parked last night on 44th ave SW & SW Hinds. No note was left by the driver. If anyone happened to see anything, I would be most grateful to hear.

In the Seaview area, Jessica reports an unsettling sighting this morning:

I live just off California, south of Raymond, and my garage faces a small driveway/alleyway between two buildings. As I was leaving for work this morning around 5:30 am, a person walked behind my car as I was backing out of the driveway (it’s unusual for anyone to walk down the driveway, especially at this hour). He walked past the car, went out to California and stood there. As I started to pull toward California and pressed the button for the garage to close, he turned around and walked back toward my garage. I watched him in the mirror and he stuck his foot under the garage door to try to stop it from closing. It closed anyway, so he then went up the stairs that go between my front door and the back door of the unit behind me. I didn’t see him come back down (there’s no other way out between the units), so I drove around the block and came back down the alley but couldn’t see anything. I called and reported it, but please keep an eye out for an African American male in his mid-twenties wearing a hoodie, a beanie with a fluffy ball thing on top, a backpack and carrying a pile of what looked to be sheets/blankets.

And last night, Mathew in Gatewood spotted a possible case of casing:

We reported to the police at 8:16 pm a suspicious person, black male, about 6 ft tall, 20-25 yrs old, asking for a person named Jake. He first walked over to our side gate, then looked in our front window and after making eye contact with one of us he knocked on our door. We believe he is casing our house. We are located at 35th & Rose.

One more meeting note: the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets next Tuesday – details here.

14 Comments

  1. I know it shouldn’t surprise me, but it both surprises and bothers me how brazen thieves are.. daylight car thefts and home breakins, especially.

    Comment by Phillip — 12:38 pm February 15, 2013 #

  2. I’d love to know what kind of camera was being used to catch the neighborhood car theft. Good image quality!

    Comment by Irukandji — 1:00 pm February 15, 2013 #

  3. Will the news people get this so it can be shown on news?

    Comment by Faith4 — 2:16 pm February 15, 2013 #

  4. I thought it was really difficult to steal a modern car equipped with the radio-tag chip in the key. Silly me – thieves are always one step ahead of us.

    Comment by skeeter — 2:49 pm February 15, 2013 #

  5. Faith, we *are* newspeople, and WSB reaches more people in this area than any other media outlet of any kind, so it’s not lacking for distribution. That said, I’m sure Tracy has sent it to anyone he wanted to send it to – I know it’s been extensively shared on Facebook, which is where it was brought to our attention. (And the most important thing would be for it to get to the police.) Regional news media generally would not care about a car theft unless there was something unusual about the car and the circumstances. Not to downplay the severity of a crime with big loot (any car being worth thousands), but their broadcasts have to hit the biggest stories from 22 counties in Western Washington – TR

    Comment by WSB — 2:57 pm February 15, 2013 #

  6. It appears that both of them were wearing gloves.

    Comment by kg — 3:01 pm February 15, 2013 #

  7. KG, ***good eye*** I just zoomed in and you are so right. Wasn’t exactly a glove kind of morning, otherwise.

    Comment by WSB — 3:03 pm February 15, 2013 #

  8. Private driveway should also have a photo-electric eye or motion detector that identifies when someone is walking there.

    I have a camera pointed directly at my vehicle. I also have a motion detector that alerts me when someone is roaming around it.

    Also, from prior experience, cops do not bother to fingerprint stolen cars. In fact, in most cases, they don’t bother to fingerprint most burglaries.

    This particular one is kind of strange. As someone mentioned, most vehicles since 2001 have an RF chipset in the key fob that is coded uniquely for that particular car computer. “Hotwiring” a car like that is pretty useless since the computer will most likely shut the car down after three minutes.

    I wonder if this particular vehicle had been in the dealer for scheduled maintenance lately. I ask, because it is possible that someone at that dealer has access to the codes and can make a spare key for that car. These two guys seemed to be pretty specific as to where they were heading to pick up a vehicle.

    One last thing. Unless the state can prove the perpetrators were selling parts or changing VIN numbers, these guys would have had to commit THREE previous felonies before they ever went to prison. If they were only stealing the car to drive around, they would only see the inside of a prison if they had SIX prior felony convictions.

    Because of the shear number of auto thefts in the greater Seattle area, most defendants are allowed to plea bargain down to the lowest level of auto theft which essentially amounts to a slap on the wrist.

    The legislature did change the penalties and added a couple of new levels of seriousness to the auto theft crimes a couple of years ago, but they didn’t go far enough. Because auto theft is akin to what stealing a horse was 150 years ago, the MINIMUM sentence for auto theft should be at least five years mandatory, with no good time or plea bargain.

    Want to cut down on these kinds of crimes? Make it hurt.

    Comment by DJ Allyn — 4:03 pm February 15, 2013 #

  9. DJ Allyn:

    I appreciate your thoughts. I was curious about that myself. I thought the days were gone when your 1953 Chevrolet key would work in a 1956 Buick Century.

    Great insight.

    Comment by Citizen Sane — 4:54 pm February 15, 2013 #

  10. Citizen Sane:

    GM made seven different keys for their cars from 1951 through 1966. If you had all seven, you could drive anything made by GM.

    Today, car manufacturers have gone to extra lengths to prevent hotwiring, or using a slide hammer to pull a lock cylinder. The computer has to be able detect that the right key is used, but it also has to match the code within that key. Normally, this is a very proprietary system that has to be done in a shop and the person making the key has to be able to have the car there to make the key. This is why you are likely to pay a few hundred dollars to replace a key that you lost.

    Recently, I lost a key to a 2009 Passat. I had to go to the dealer, have them make me a key that would unlock the door and the ignition, but had to get the car towed to the dealer for them to make the key work. I could start the engine, but the computer would shut the engine off after three minutes. If I did that more than three times, it would not work at all.

    Now here is the thing: Because this is a port city, there are likely to be at least one active car thief ring operating around here. These crooks might have someone working in one of these dealerships and has access to vehicles and the codes. It wouldn’t be hard for them make a key for a random vehicle when it is in for scheduled maintenance, and sell that key and information to some low-level car thief to come pick up the car at a later date when someone least expects it.

    Stolen cars get shipped all over the world. There is also a huge business in used car parts. However the thieves got the key, the fact that this was a fairly new vehicle seems to indicate that it was targeted. Watching the video, these two guys didn’t slow down or even glance at the car they walked by.

    Comment by DJ Allyn — 7:38 pm February 15, 2013 #

  11. You bet, DJ. I believe you are correct. I always wondered how the newer cars could get ripped off. Inside the dealership job, so to speak. As sophisticated as that technology is now, perhaps they can trace it to the dealership.

    Comment by Citizen Sane — 8:09 pm February 15, 2013 #

  12. Fascinating stuff, DJ. But I disagree with your last comment that these two didn’t slow down or glance at the car they walked by; they were subtle, but they are pros. The one closest to the car totally showed his hand. If there was audio it would have sounded something like: Thief One: “Zat the one?” Thief Two: “Oh yeah. Keep walking. Don’t look. We’ll swing around and have our backs to the camera. Hey, you still stoned? This one is all you, dude.”

    God, how I hate a thief.

    Comment by Chuck & Sally's Van Man — 10:34 pm February 15, 2013 #

  13. grrrrr! i hate thieves.
    i hear its harder to steal a newer car. did they have to do some sort of procedure like switching the computer starting mechanism with one they brought?
    someone stole tools out my garage last year, & I saw them on craigslist the next day. Alas I had no proof of the theft or the serial numbers so the cops said they couldn’t do anything. Record your serial numbers folks!

    Comment by Chuck — 4:53 pm February 17, 2013 #

  14. Just wanted to add my car to the list. My Honda Civic was stolen some time between 9:45 a.m. on 2/13 and 6:45 p.m. on 2/14. It was parked in front of my house at 47th and Hanford. Seems like it was a professional job as there was no glass and it was found two days later chopped.

    Comment by Maria — 5:06 pm February 21, 2013 #

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