West Seattle Crime Watch: Tale of the theft that tanked

May 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm | In Crime, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

Heard a bit of scanner traffic on this – stolen toilet tank? – and thought we’d misheard. However, SPD Blotter’s Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, who gets to see the reports and knows a good story when he sees one, tells the tale this afternoon:

Seattle police are looking for a man who put the bathroom of a West Seattle Subway out of commission Sunday night after stealing the restaurant’s toilet, making off with a key, and flooding the restroom’s sink.

According to Subway employees, the man and his family walked into the Subway restaurant in the 4700 block of 42nd Ave SW and ordered food around 7:45 PM. While employees were preparing the family’s meal, the man went into the Subway’s bathroom and was gone for quite some time — so long, in fact, that his wife knocked on the bathroom door and asked what was taking him so long. The man’s family then left the restaurant without him.

A short time later, the man emerged from the bathroom carrying a large, black plastic garbage bag and quickly left the restaurant.
An employee later walked into the bathroom and found the toilet tank missing. The employee also found the still-running bathroom sink stuffed with paper towels, and discovered the bathroom key had also been liberated from the lavatory.

Subway staff told officers the missing toilet tank was worth $550. Officers also spoke to several witnesses at the scene who provided information identifying a possible number one suspect in the case. Southwest Precinct burglary/theft detectives will handle the investigation.


  1. A little error regarding the address given for the Safeway. The 4700 S.W. block is all residential. I think maybe it’s supposed to be the 4700 S.W. block of 42nd Ave S.W. Jefferson Square.

    Comment by artsea — 2:43 pm May 12, 2014 #

  2. (edited) I originally replied, no, it’s correct, but then I learned another WSB team member had already made the correction. So, sorry! I will let SPD know, as it was their copy we excerpted here, though that’s no excuse, I should have proofread for accuracy … TR

    Comment by WSB — 2:51 pm May 12, 2014 #

  3. Number one suspect? Is there a number two suspect ??

    Comment by WSince86 — 4:08 pm May 12, 2014 #

  4. What a crappy thing to do!

    Seriously, how could the workers not determine something very suspicious was immediately happening when someone trying to lug something heavy out the door when they did not come in with it…..

    Comment by Ray — 5:32 pm May 12, 2014 #

  5. So if the toilet is missing, then the cops have nothing to go on? ;)

    Comment by wsn00b — 5:33 pm May 12, 2014 #

  6. So,are we talking about a Safeway or a subway then?
    artsea comment has me confused.

    $550 for a used toilet water tank? Is this what they use for a safe?

    Comment by RB — 5:37 pm May 12, 2014 #

  7. So that toilet now becomes a … porta potty.

    Comment by drahcir61 — 5:42 pm May 12, 2014 #

  8. Oh the puns

    Comment by Eric — 7:59 pm May 12, 2014 #

  9. I totally knew you all would resort to potty humor, neighbors. ;)

    Comment by Chris W — 8:01 pm May 12, 2014 #

  10. I know we all think this is unusually funny, but a small business owner and hardworking family has to pay the price for this. Insurance has a deductible and this will cost them.

    What the heck was the motivation? Clearly not any value in what was taken. Just plain old malice?

    Comment by Joe — 8:07 pm May 12, 2014 #

  11. Puns are classic.

    His family left without him… while he was still in the bathroom? Intentionally blocked the sink? And he only took the tank? So weird.

    Comment by heather — 8:50 pm May 12, 2014 #

  12. Why flood the sink? That’s the strangest part of the story. That sucks,the family that owns that subway are nice people, that’s like 110 foot-longs.

    Comment by Jason — 8:52 am May 13, 2014 #

  13. Someone should tell Subway that toilets, entire toilets tank and all, can be bought for about $80. How on Earth could the toilet tank be worth $550? I’m curious as to how they arrived at that figure.

    Comment by Lindsey — 10:08 am May 13, 2014 #

  14. Re: Lindsey’s questions — my guesses on the $550 — First – Insurance deductible — gotta max the cost on the tax write-off —- then if an older style toilet – tanks probably not available — and so a whole new toilet and professional installation — price a plumber lately?

    Comment by Bill — 1:10 pm May 13, 2014 #

  15. I work most mornings at this Subway. Come on it and I’ll explain why this toilet cost so much. As for insurance, I won’t make a claim because my deductible is $1,000.

    Comment by Jimmy — 9:28 pm May 15, 2014 #

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