West Seattle Crime Watch: Car prowl/assault attempt, plus – what you need to know about deterring prowls and package thefts

In West Seattle Crime Watch, an incident report from B:

At 8:45 this morning our neighbor left to go to work and noticed that someone was sitting in the front seat of my car digging around. When confronted the robber jumped in a waiting car and tried to hit my neighbor. Luckily he missed, backed up and struck the support wires for a light pole and loosened them and then sped off. I didn’t lose anything and gained new respect for LOCKING MY DOORS. I always figure that if I don’t have anything in my car no need to lock. WRONG.

We have the license number: ANB 1083 and the car was a Black Hyundai Elantra… But the police said that the license plate was stolen – and maybe the car as well. That’s why they could be so bold to be out scouting in daylight. I’m in the 2300 block of 49th SW off Waite. Please make sure people are locking their car and looking out for these creeps!

B also confirms that Seattle City Light has been notified to get the wires fixed – the pole is not leaning, so far.

Now, from the “you’ve heard it before but you need to hear it again” file – Southwest/South Precincts’ Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon is re-circulating advice on how to deter car prowls and package thefts:

CAR PROWLS

We feel we have an unacceptable number of reported Car Prowl incidents for our Precinct. The level of Car Prowls, Auto Accessory Thefts and theft of license plates for the Southwest Precinct shows a 14% increase compared to this time last year.

Car prowls are crimes of opportunity that are committed within seconds. They are expensive, inconvenient, and aggravating for victims.

Thieves are targeting vehicles of all makes and models for valuables, including:

· Packages, GPS devices, laptops, cellular phones, cameras, purses, luggage, cash and garage remotes

Most stolen property is traded or sold within minutes of the crime, lowering the chance of recovery. Thieves commonly break windows for entry, but many are also successful at defeating door and trunk locks.

Prevention: Be Consistent
· Remove all valuables from your vehicle every time you park.
· If valuables must be left behind, hide them out of sight or place them in the trunk before parking at your destination.
· Disable internal trunk releases per your owner’s manual instructions.
· Audible alarms or other theft deterrent devices can be effective.
· Security garages are only secure if entering and exiting drivers watch the door fully close behind them every time. This is to deter someone from sneaking into the garage behind you.
· Remote controls for security garages should never be left inside parked vehicles. They provide future access to returning thieves.

Be Observant And Report

· Report all crimes and suspicious activity to 911 immediately. We know the frustration some feel about crime reporting, thinking that calling 911 doesn’t make a difference. For police to identify crime trends and devote resources to addressing those trends, we need information from the public. Your reporting provides that information.

PACKAGE THEFT

Package thefts are crimes of opportunity. Thieves will often follow or watch for FedEx, UPS, US Mail and other delivery trucks and then target a home after a delivery is made. Often packages are simply left at the doorstep of the home and in plain view of the street. Package thefts from doorstops and front porches during the day usually increase between the months of October and January. There are steps you can take to be proactive in keeping your package safe from theft. To reduce the chances of being victimized by package delivery thieves, we offer the following advice:

Tracking and Delivery

· Track your shipment: All of the major delivery companies offer package tracking, some providing free alerts letting you know where your package is in the shipping process.
· Choose a shipping option that requires you to sign for delivery.
· Arrange to have the package shipped to another location where someone can receive it. This could be your workplace, a friend or relative’s home, with a trusted neighbor, the leasing office at your apartment complex or even the local “mailbox” business that may agree to accept shipment of your item for a fee.
· Ask the delivery service to hold your package for customer pick-up at their local shipping facility.
· You can buy locking bins that your packages can be stored in safely until you return home to retrieve them. You just give the key code to the delivery company so they can store the package and use your key code to retrieve it. While locking bins are an option, it is recommended you bolt the locking bin down so that it can’t be carted away. Also, be mindful that these locking bins run $500-$800 on average.
· If none of the above are viable options, at the very least request the package be placed in a discrete location not visible from the street.

Package Not Received or You Suspect Theft

· If you do not receive your shipment on time, check with the company of origin and confirm the delivery. If something you ordered cannot be located, contact the sender of the package to initiate a trace process. The sender will then follow up with you on the progress of your shipment.
· If the item was delivered and you did not receive it, report the theft or loss to the original company, the shipping company, and the Seattle Police Department’s non-emergency line at 206-625-5011.
· Many package thefts occur during daylight hours. As always, be alert to suspicious behavior in your neighborhood, especially if you see a delivery truck making the rounds and a vehicle following behind or unfamiliar subjects on foot or on your neighbor’s property. Be prepared to call 911. Your calls do have an impact on crime and criminals.

Delivery Company Liability

· Once the package has been delivered, whether signed for or not, it’s no longer the shipping company’s responsibility. Bottom line, if the package is stolen after delivery, the delivery company is not liable.

24 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Car prowl/assault attempt, plus - what you need to know about deterring prowls and package thefts"

  • KM December 2, 2015 (12:36 pm)

    I’m sorry this happened, B. I have had some friends resort to leaving everything open (glove compartment, etc.), windows down (if under cover), as well as doors unlocked after having a few break-ins–just the reverse of locking doors. That way, there were no locks or windows to repair upon a break-in. Either way, it seems like our region is stuck with pretty high property crime rates, and that just sucks.

  • Brenda December 2, 2015 (12:58 pm)

    Thanks KM. it’s really surprising when it happens to you. Especially in broad daylight. I do have to thank SPD. An officer was here within 20 minutes of when I called. He followed up with City light, my neighbor, and myself very quickly. Hope with all this info they can get these guys off the streets.

  • Keden December 2, 2015 (1:05 pm)

    I thought there was nothing in my car to steal, but someone broke into it for old sunglasses, a house key (to a house in a different city) and a tin of altoids. I think car prowlers have a very loose definition of “valuables”.

  • Leslie December 2, 2015 (1:39 pm)

    I was recently in Nijmegen, Netherlands visiting friends and after we parked their car in front of their door they proceeded to open all the bins in the car including the glove compartment. I asked why and they said to prevent theft. I guess car theft is not just a West Seattle problem.

  • Marlene December 2, 2015 (1:55 pm)

    When my car was broken into, the thieves stole my car mats and a squeegee. They also disabled the car alarm by cutting the car horn–a $150 repair bill. Sigh.

  • Azimuth December 2, 2015 (2:04 pm)

    So what’s the rule on booby traps?

  • Gina December 2, 2015 (2:51 pm)

    And to repeat an old story of mine. When my stolen car was recovered the thief took a roll of toilet paper and a 15 year-old beach towel and a 20 year-old Krolls street guide to King County along with a shoulder belt pad for children. They left behind jumper cables and coins, (not mine) and a child’s hair barrette and a half smoked cigarette.

  • RarelyEver December 2, 2015 (4:10 pm)

    I’m sorry this happened to you, Brenda, but I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t lock their car doors… or any doors, frankly. I lock my car doors even if I’m only running back into the house for 45 seconds to retrieve something I forgot. And my office door, even if I’m just going to the copier in the next room.

    Of course, thieves can clearly break in if they want to, but out of three crooks jiggling a handle, maybe two won’t go any further if the doors are locked.

  • themightyrabbit December 2, 2015 (4:57 pm)

    RarelyEver “I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t lock their car doors?”

    1) Because it prevents the windows from being bust out by thieves who are determined to break into that car no matter what. However many times it’s just opportunistic, so yes it’s a decision of the owner
    2) Because if you have a convertible, that saves it from being slashed.

    I’m sure there’s more.

  • Norm December 2, 2015 (5:32 pm)

    First of all, sorry this happened to you. That really sucks. I was thinking about the comment you made about stolen plates and thought there must be some way to prevent this. It really comes down to the screws used to hold the plate to the car. Most of them are plain old philips screws. We all have a philips screw driver and so do the crooks. One fix is to change the screws that hold the plate to the car. I looked on Amazon and there are few options for different styles of screws. I’ll post the link below, but you can get something at the hardware store that will work just as well.

    I’m changing mine tomorrow.

    Here’s that link.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=screws+for+license+plate&tag=googhydr-20&index=automotive&hvadid=88152584560&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12371795066601911519&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_4rbnahip4f_b

  • sophista-tiki December 2, 2015 (6:07 pm)

    after 2 attempts to steal my vintage car right out of my driveway I have it COMPLETELY Booby trapped. FTS!

  • Kim December 2, 2015 (6:12 pm)

    I don’t lock my car doors. I’d rather have them rifle through my stuff than break the window (which occurred when I was parked elsewhere in the city two years ago). Their current cache as of 11/21: a tube of Starbucks jellybeans! They don’t like our taste in music.

  • Cynical girl December 2, 2015 (6:40 pm)

    I unfortunately have to get up in the middle of the night and have gotten into the habit of walking outside and listening. I’m hoping to use my morning breath as a paralyzing agent.

  • WS4life December 2, 2015 (7:21 pm)

    Sorry for you and especially for your vigilant neighbor.
    I also purchased those safety screws. Used the Club and other anti-theft apparatuses. Years ago it even came to a point where I used to chain my cars together. Point being there is only so much you/we can do to try and protect our personal property and valuables. As stated above property theft vehicle theft is at an absolutely “unacceptable number” is this area. Gee, ya think?!
    I’ve done just about all you can do to help prevent things from getting stolen.
    Just an absolute staggering amount of hard work time and money down the drain over my short 39years in good ole West Seattle.

    My truck still has yet to be recovered!
    http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/west-seattle-crime-watch-restored-pickup-truck-taken/

    West Seattle is getting extremely dangerous this time of year!

  • Wb December 2, 2015 (7:31 pm)

    B – your neighbor is a hero. The best defense is a strong neighborhood.

  • KM December 2, 2015 (7:32 pm)

    Kim-

    Once we left our car unlocked (on accident) when we lived in Oakland. The perps took our disc-man and tape converter we used, but had the kindness to take out our CD and leave it on the passengers side seat. They also didn’t find our $20 we stashed away for bridge tolls.

  • WS neighbour December 2, 2015 (9:01 pm)

    I moved to West Seattle 3 years ago from Ballard. My house was broken into here our first year. My mistake, didn’t latch a back bedroom window, only visible from our backyard. Crooks are sneaky! That being said, during our 4 year stint in Ballard, had my car broken into in our driveway, and we had 6 neighbours also have their cars broken into during that time. Those were people we knew! Can’t even imagine how frequently it occurred beyond our block. This is not only a West Seattle problem. My parents live in a small town on a dead end road, and last summer someone broke into both of their cars in the middle of the night. Not sure how we can reverse this trend.

  • Paula December 2, 2015 (11:26 pm)

    At 740 a.m. this morning we had our truck window smashed out and some items stolen, we live on the 1500 block.

  • Wes December 2, 2015 (11:47 pm)

    My truck was broken into this morning at 730 AM on Seattle st

  • Stacey December 3, 2015 (10:23 am)

    I forgot to lock my car doors one night about a week ago.The next day I saw that the glove compartment had been left open and the misc junk in it was scattered all around (mainly a lot of unused Kleenex tissues). I noticed three items were missing: my car registration, a flowered bag with all my tutoring supplies in it and my American Mah Jongg set that was in a soft, red, zippered bag/case. Luckily the thief totally overlooked a dmaller bag that had $16 in cash in it and several items of sentimental value to me and a couple of jackets. This happened while my car was parked in our driveway (not that close to the street and up a bit of a hill). We are in the unincorporated area of King County near the Safeway on Roxbury (a couple of blocks from Westwood Village). I went online and reported it through the sheriff’s website.

    Guess I should also feel lucky they didn’t break the window. Do you suppose most of these thieves are looking to grab stuff to sell to support their drug habits? Such a shame to have so little respect for other people’s property. I wonder if any of them ever get caught? Makes me understand why some ppl like living in gated communities.

    Now, I’m making sure I don’t leave anything valuable in my car and that I always lock it. I’m just hoping it doesn’t happen again and they decide to smash the window to get in!

  • wetone December 3, 2015 (10:41 am)

    Glad SPD is finally admitting car prowl incidents are on a rise….. should of included all types of criminal behavior in Seattle area is on the rise. A week doesn’t go by without hearing from someone having something happen. Been saying for years how things are getting worse here in WS only to get told SPD says not true….. too bad city has let crime get to the point they can’t cover it up anymore. I don’t expect things to get any better with current government in Seattle. Growing up at Alki in the 60’s 70’s we never locked our doors, houses or cars. Early 80’s things started changing, I guess that’s progress….

  • Vigakante December 3, 2015 (12:13 pm)

    How can we take more offensive action against these attacks? There must be something we can do, instead of just being sitting ducks, taking our lumps, and paying for costly repairs. These jerks have no incentive to stop destroying our property! In the offl chance they are caught, they are back at it the next day… I know you can’t shoot them, or boobytrap your vehicle, but there must be some way to stop these crooks, or make them fearful for their own safety..!?

  • Rick December 3, 2015 (3:43 pm)

    Maybe it’s time to institute a different version of the “Scarlet Letter”.

  • Dragonf1y December 3, 2015 (7:06 pm)

    My car window was smashed yesterday st Westcrest Dogpark. They stole my handbag. The thieves racked up over $1,500 on my credit cards within an hour. I’m lucky that we don’t use a debit card or they could have emptied my bank account as well.
    When I called the police, they directed me to their website to make a report. It’s disheartening to know that they really do nothing to help.
    We need more police patrolling high crime areas!

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