West Seattle Crime Watch: Drive-up theft in Trader Joe’s lot

5:06 PM: After multiple secondhand reports about this, we haven’t been able to track down the police report yet, but a warning seems to be in order about a robbery/theft reported in the West Seattle Trader Joe’s parking lot this afternoon. The first person to contact us said she is a friend of the victim: “My friend was robbed at approximately 1:20. She screamed for help and no one responded. Police later notified. Robbery: Man took her money, phone, credit cards, etc, while she was unpacking groceries, then another guy drove him away.” We have a followup message out to that friend asking about suspect and vehicle description, etc. Another friend says the victim posted on social media that the thief/robber was driven up, got out of that vehicle, grabbed the purse, and then got into another car to get away (but still no descriptive details). If we don’t get more info sooner, we’ll pursue it at tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting.

6:43 PM UPDATE: We just spoke with the victim by phone. She says it happened in the center of the main lot, where she was parked not far from the exit onto Fauntleroy. The thief was a passenger in a dark-red or maroon older Ford Bronco/Explorer-type “smaller, older SUV with a squared-off back, 4 doors” that drove up next to her car. He got out, walked toward her “mumbling” – she’s a nurse so she says she wondered if he was OK – then suddenly, she says, as she was reaching for her last bag of groceries, he lunged into the back of her car, which was open, grabbed her purse, got back in his vehicle, and it left.

She describes him as “probably 5’5″, 5’6″, stocky, pale complexion, round face, stubbly,” wearing some type of hat, but she cannot recall anything about his clothing. The “strange mumbling” was his most distinctive feature, she says, adding that police told her the description and MO matched an incident elsewhere in the area within the past week.

Also, regarding the report that no one answered her calls for help after the theft, she said a woman did eventually come over and ask what she could do and offered her phone for the 911 call. The theft victim did talk with the store manager and staffers who she said came out, but she was told there are no cameras outside the store.

We’re heading to the Crime Prevention Council meeting now and if someone doesn’t bring it up, we’ll follow up with precinct leadership about the report that this was a repeat incident.

28 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Drive-up theft in Trader Joe's lot"

  • JayDee June 21, 2016 (5:28 pm)

    Upper lot, lower lot or 39th?

    • WSB June 21, 2016 (5:43 pm)

      That’s another of the questions in my followup request.

  • Double Dub Resident June 21, 2016 (6:04 pm)

    Are you bleeping kidding me?! These POS are getting way too brazen! There really needs to be a serious follow up with this if there happens to credit card transactions at places with surveillance videos. This is getting ridiculous with the brazeness of these POS.

    And the fact that no one responded to her calls for help. Way to go people! Way to go! 

  • Seattlite June 21, 2016 (6:16 pm)

    Extremely dangerous, bold criminals are on the streets these days.  Knowing which TJ’s parking lot the victim was in is the main question.  All I can say is that as an older person I remain hyper vigilant of my surroundings.  I hope the victim recovers from the emotional trauma of being robbed and that she can somehow get her belongings returned.

    • WSB June 21, 2016 (6:21 pm)

      I just talked to the victim by phone – the original tipster who e-mailed us said she would be OK with talking to me. So I am adding that info to the story – it’ll take a few minutes. – TR

  • Shawn Ferris June 21, 2016 (6:33 pm)

    I went to this TJ’s today and noted to my check out clerk that I hoped there would be improved security measures taken as they don’t have exterior cameras on the upper lot where the incident took place. Sadly he knew nothing about what had happened. At the very least the employees should be notified and aware of this terrible crime that happened today to my friend. Another friend called the TJ’s manager to ask what they were doing in response…she was told they have no individual authority to do anything such as install exterior cameras on their parking lots but that he would notify the head office in Calif. for directive measures. The clerk did note that at any time they will accompany anyone to their car when requested.

  • Trickycoolj June 21, 2016 (7:02 pm)

    Yikes. Shame that TJs has no social media presence that we could pressure them to respond to security concerns. This isn’t the first instance here right?

    Changed to a cross body purse years ago when I worked downtown, I never take it off in public. Sadly can’t trust anyone these days.

  • Ellen June 21, 2016 (7:16 pm)

    It was the LOWER parking lot.

    • WSB June 21, 2016 (7:20 pm)

      We’ve added all the details including that, above. The main lot, near the exit to Fauntleroy, is what she told me. Not the upstairs garage, not the parking spaces on the side along 39th.

  • Alki Resident June 21, 2016 (7:21 pm)

    I would like to let the victim know that had I been there during this incident, I wouldve jumped into action in some sort of way. Im so sorry this happened. Im a female and dont take this stuff lightly. Im appalled that nobody came to help. 

  • Jay June 21, 2016 (7:41 pm)

    Sounds like someone I used to work with that had an opiate addiction.  His name was Ryan.  Light/reddish hair.  Mumbled when he was high.

  • Kate P June 21, 2016 (8:20 pm)

    I wish I had been close by. I would have shot him in the face with pepper spray and called the police. It’s so frusteraring that there are so many criminals in Seattle now that just get away with victimizing good people. Soon the only way to protect ourselves will be to carry a weapon and take out the criminals ourselves.  

  • Ann Schumann June 21, 2016 (8:27 pm)

    Time to get cameras

  • Jon June 21, 2016 (10:09 pm)

    Jeez, that’s awful. Thanks for reporting this, Tracy.

    Be careful out there, everybody. That’s just the reality of the world, unfortunately: things happen at any time and place and no amount of police will ever “cure” that about life. Even if there were cameras, it wouldn’t have prevented the crime and the police likely wouldn’t have followed up or done much since it ranks lower on their list of priorities.

    If you feel vulnerable, please do seek the proper training if you choose to defend yourself with any weapons. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety.

    With sprays, at such close distances, you can end up harming yourself (sprays in close-quarters often blowback; mists cover more area than gel but are less accurate). Also, be sure that you’re following the law. Some people tell me that they’ll carry a knife (one of the worst weapons to use; often turned against you); which is extremely shaky legal ground within city limits (legal in WA state but Seattle – as usual – has their own weird laws).

    If you’re serious about learning more about defending yourselves, I would recommend starting off by watching some basics on the Personal Defense Network (a YouTube channel) and work your way up to your prefered confidence level. They do a great job of covering everything if you dig around; beyond that, I’m sure there are reputable courses taught for every tier of self-defense.

    One big thing I’ve always noticed with the women I’ve run into, particularly with sprays: it’s never there when you need it. Just owning something isn’t enough; if it’s buried in your purse, a whole lot of good it does you when someone attempts to rob or grab you. So in that circumstance, I would recommend having something attached to your keychain and having it in your hands when you walk to and from places. It’s absolutely your right to do so. With that said: I can’t say I’ve loved many spray canisters in regards to durability and function. If you look on Amazon for “Sabre Red”, you’ll find a very cost-effective and compact solution; just know I’ve had a few of the tops crack in my pockets. I would recommend gel (which needs to be directly and accurately sprayed into a face), simply because it’s wind-resistant.

    I would also recommend that anyone who is serious about self-defense invest in a quality flashlight (~$90-150 depending) with a crenulated “strike bezel” (or glass-breaker tip), for administering blunt-force trauma to any attacker. Easiest search terms would probably be “tac (tactical) torch + crenulated bezel”. Elzetta probably makes the best one, in my opinion (indestructible, great warranty). Most run off of CR123A batteries but there are a few not-as-incredible manufacturers who use rechargeables (the Klarus XT-12 and RS18 on Amazon come to mind). They typically default to 850-900+lumens and sometimes include strobe functions. These lights will temporarily blind someone, buying you a moment to flee and are durable enough to use as a weapon if you needed to hit an attacker. Plus, it’s just wise to always have a flashlight on you.

    And if anyone ever grabs you and tries to pull you into a vehicle, kick, scream, and fight back as much as you possibly can. That said — just know when it’s better to lose a few credit cards than your life is all. You never know how desperate someone truly is.

    I’m glad the victim wasn’t injured and will likely have the charges reversed. Sucks about the phone, though. What awful people. I know how traumatic something like that can be. My sympathies. I hope that some of this information helps someone.

  • Jon June 21, 2016 (11:17 pm)

    You all need to make up your minds.  You scream and fight when the police want to install cameras.  This mentality deters businesses from installing too because they don’t want your social media wrath (you know the wrath that you proudly bestow on those with differing opinions.)  Now that a crime has happened, you’re wondering why there aren’t any cameras outside.

  • cj June 22, 2016 (12:29 am)

    They need a sighn that says no cameras inside.  The robbers seemed to know.

  • Pam June 22, 2016 (12:34 am)

    I’m the person who experienced the robbery. My car was parked 30′ at most from the main entrance, directly across driveway from the cart stand and melons near the front door. My car was in the end slot closest to store, and it was the middle of a sunny day – asking for an escort didn’t cross my mind. 

    I set my purse into the back of the car and was putting the last of three bags in when it happened.  The grab was a surgical strike, incredible execution in the blink of an eye. Even if I’d had mace there was no time to use it – they pulled their car up directly behind me, thief exited from the rear, behind driver’s seat, mumbled as he took a couple steps toward me (I’m a nurse and actually wondered if he was ill), then lunged for my purse,  jumped back into their car and they sped away. I did not see the driver.

    I ran after the car, screaming loudly for help. It exited the lot, turning left onto Fauntleroy and took off at high speed. I don’t expect others to risk their lives, but someone could’ve  at least noted the license of vehicle and other details. There were four or five shoppers in the lot when I went out with my cart, but they vanished. First question on police report is “witnesses” and it is blank.

    I screamed for what seemed like quite awhile. Finally a woman leaving the lot drove up to me, asked what she could do, and offered her phone. Another woman appeared and called 911. By this time the robbers were long gone, but I appreciated the women’s support and company. TJ manager and a couple staffers then came out – someone who saw the incident must have alerted them. They were helpful, took my bag of cold stuff back into the store, offered to let me use their phone inside and one gave me his cell phone to try to use Find My Phone (didn’t work). They encouraged me to cancel credit cards asap.  Police arrived in about an hour.  The officer treated me well, took a report, and said my description (see above post) matched that of a similar incident in the area earlier this week.

    • fatkitty June 22, 2016 (7:27 am)

      I’m so sorry this happened to you.  It’s not the same thing at all but about 3 weeks ago I had some crazy person jump on my car while I was driving my daughter to school and not one person helped me.  I even had people drive around my car (with him on it) and they honked at me (like how dare you get in my way on the way to work).  Very upsetting because these were my neighbors.  I wasn’t expecting anybody to actually DO ANYTHING but getting behind me and driving past and honking was just too much.  :(  I’m so sorry you had problems.  

  • Diane June 22, 2016 (1:47 am)

    shocked to just learn via facebook that I know Pam; so glad she is ok, and has tons of friends offering support; this could happen to anyone; please be vigilant

  • Anonalisa June 22, 2016 (2:38 am)

    No trader joes have cameras and they WON’T. They’re trying to tell the customer ‘we trust you’. It’s the same reason they won’t just display the boxes of patron and have the customer ask for it when checking out… Even though they’re stolen daily. 

    (I used to work at one) 

    • fatkitty June 22, 2016 (7:29 am)

      I went to TJ’s one day and there were two or three guys running out with booze bottles in their hands.  Almost knocked me over.  The TJ employee told me it was a daily occurrence!  

  • Arlene Carter June 22, 2016 (9:15 am)

    Pam – I am sorry this happened to you. What a terrible thing. Thank you for sharing the details. I will certainly be much more vigilant with my purse when in any parking lot thanks to your warning.

  • Diane June 22, 2016 (11:25 am)

    yep FATKITTY; thanks to those who voted for privatization of liquor sales, every store that sells alcohol has daily steal & run out the door with booze; and most stores just write it off;  it’s too dangerous for staff to chase the thieves

    • Dan June 22, 2016 (12:33 pm)

      You’re welcome!

  • Seattlite June 22, 2016 (12:27 pm)

    I won’t be shopping at TJs anytime soon.  Customer safety comes first.  Not having cameras invites the underbelly to the premises for criminal activity.

    • WSB June 22, 2016 (12:46 pm)

      Who do you know of that DOES have cameras in their parking lot(s)? Only time I can recall a camera figuring into an investigation was the shooting outside the auto shop in the Luna Park business district.

  • Double Dub Resident June 22, 2016 (1:32 pm)

    Doesn’t Target have cameras?

  • WTF June 24, 2016 (11:52 am)

    Might I suggest boxing lessons!

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