FOLLOWUP: Kent Police say leaving stolen-car owner stuck with others’ stuff was ‘unfortunate’

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By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“It is unfortunate what took place …”

That’s what a Kent Police Department commander tells WSB in response to our inquiries about what happened after that agency found a vehicle stolen in West Seattle and turned over to its owner.

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We first reported two Fridays ago about that vehicle, stolen from local restaurateur Dan Austin (owner of WSB sponsor Peel & Press). Then last Thursday, Austin let us know that his car had been found by Kent Police (outside the Des Moines Goodwill, which is in Kent city limits) – but, as he put it in the report we published Thursday night, “Here is the weird thing, I have stolen mail and property in the car but the police wouldn’t take it. They said it was mine to deal with. I find this insane!!! I have a stolen bike and several pairs of glasses, electronics, stolen mail from all over and gym bags. What am I going to do with these??? I refuse to toss them because, as someone who just had my car stolen, I want to help people get their things back!”

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Trying to deal with those things added insult to the injury of his car theft, which left him with a damaged vehicle and trashed interior that reeked of a variety of substances.

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The items he most hoped to get back – the car seats for his young children – were gone. And there he was, stuck with piles of stuff, from the personal documents shown in the top photo – belonging to a variety of people including one person who, that paperwork said, had recently gotten out of jail after an arrest for suspected forgery – to mail, to eyeglasses:

glasses

At one point after Austin talked with the Southwest Precinct, Seattle Police were going to take possession of the items – an officer was there when we stopped by Austin’s house on Friday afternoon to take the photos you see in the story; we rushed over because at the time he thought they were about to be taken away.

Kent Police, however, were still in the loop, and according to the SPD officer, were arguing about what to do, so the Seattle officer left. And there was Austin, still in possession of other people’s stuff. Finally, he told us, a Kent officer was sent on Saturday and the items were taken away. “The whole situation still seems really messed up, and I wonder how many people never get their items returned because cops don’t want to take the time to inventory or retrieve it.”

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We tried calling Kent PD on Friday afternoon, but were unable to reach spokesperson Commander Jarod Kasner. Today, we e-mailed him to ask about the situation, and he replied, calling it “unfortunate circumstances … Mr. Austin should not have beared the responsibility of re-contacting us in this situation; however, once we were re-contacted a Kent Officer responded to his location and collected the items that Mr. Austin had in his possession. We are reaching out to other police agencies in an attempt to locate the identified owners of the property that was collected.”

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Commander Kasner also addressed Austin’s concern about being told that the two people found in his car wouldn’t face prosecution: “In this type of case we have to establish ‘knowledge’ that the vehicle was stolen. Arresting the suspect on his confirmed warrant allows us to investigate further and establish the required ‘knowledge/ aspect of the crime. The case was referred to the Detective Unit and it is anticipated that criminal charges surrounding the stolen vehicle will be filed.”

Overall, Kasner said, “It is unfortunate what took place and although I have not had an opportunity to obtain all the information, it appears that in this incident we did not provide the service that is expected or normally given. I would like to express that we take all crimes serious and we will be investigating why the situation was handled in the fashion in which it was. The information that will be obtained from our investigation, good or bad, will allow us to correct and change what is needed to maintain a high level of service, which is expected.”

Meantime, Austin tells WSB, “I am glad to hear that they acknowledge that this was not the way it should have happened. I am relieved to have the items under the control of the proper authorities. I would still like to know why the call was made to leave this stolen property with me … I still have a lot of respect for law enforcement but right now I have a lot of questions as well.”

SIDE NOTE: The oddest item we noticed, from everything Austin found in the car, next to somebody’s empty pill container:

32 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Kent Police say leaving stolen-car owner stuck with others' stuff was 'unfortunate'"

  • bolo November 7, 2016 (4:00 pm)

    Commander Kasner: “…we take all crimes serious…”

    Reminds me of the ubiquitous corporatespeak we get everytime we get shafted. For example, Experian loses 15 million SSN’s and they tell us “We take the privacy of our customers very seriously.” The phrase has lost its impact; they should stop using it.

  • Pops November 7, 2016 (4:13 pm)

    Ha good choice of words. Unfortunate. CYA. Happens often though kind of like car thefts/prowls. 

  • flimflam November 7, 2016 (4:32 pm)

    fairly lame explanation in my opinion. I guess we should be happy that the police bothered to respond at all.

  • Al November 7, 2016 (4:43 pm)

    Can we see what’s in the car,  5 + of us in West Seattle have been robbed. At a uhaul in West Seattle

    • WSB November 7, 2016 (8:36 pm)

      Al – that’s what the photos in the story are, the items that were in Dan’s vehicle when he got it back. In the original story last Thursday (linked in this one), we showed a few photos he sent, but they were fairly small and it was before he took the stuff out – so these are pictures we took when we went over on Friday, before he finally got police to take possession of the items. – TR

  • Oakley34 November 7, 2016 (4:57 pm)

    If there’s an upside in any of this it’s that I’m reminded to finally check out Peel and Press…

  • Chuck November 7, 2016 (5:01 pm)

    Very happy to hear he got his car back. But I find the indifference in making the property the car owner’s problem (at least at first) truly galling. Even more, that the two people found in the car (based on a TV news report I saw last night) got to play the, “we didn’t know it was stolen, we just borrowed it” card is even more troublesome. I do hope that they are able to prosecute the POS with the warrant, at least. Whatever happened to possession being 9/10th of the law? Seems to me, if you’re sitting in a stolen car full of stolen property, you’re guilty. Again, happy for Dan. Here’s hoping a thorough detail gets the smell of rotten people out of your car. 

    • flimflam November 7, 2016 (5:27 pm)

      seriously. I actually just saw an episode of “cops” the other night where a car thief said the exact same excuse – “oh I borrowed the car from a friend”. cop: “what was their name?” car thief: “uh, I don’t remember”

      • Thomas M. November 7, 2016 (10:02 pm)

        Honestly, it is starting to remind me of the cops on the Dukes of Hazzard.  Enos and Perkins anyone?

  • Chris November 7, 2016 (5:18 pm)

    We sold a car years ago and the buyer did not get the title transferred.  Our mistake on that one…..go to DMV with them and get done.   Months later we got notice from a tow yard that our car was there and we owed a big storage fee & towing fee.   We had to pay the fees as there was no choice.   When we got the car back, it had drugs and other stuff in it.   We were told by police to dispose of ourselves, which we did…..destroyed so no one else could get a hold of.   There was no way of telling what belonged to whom in the car.   Yes, it was a nightmare and did not make any sense whatsoever.   

  • WSJoe November 7, 2016 (5:35 pm)

    Goes to show how busy these jail birds are, and will literally take anything and everything they can steal out of someones possession.  Its too bad our City Council doesn’t value police work, and that crime victims have no voice at city hall meetings.

  • bob November 7, 2016 (6:17 pm)

    Jessie needs to do a story on kent police.  “I borrowed ot from a friend “

    what a joke

    • WSB November 7, 2016 (6:47 pm)

      As noted in a previous thread, Jesse Jones is a consumer reporter, not a crime reporter. Like it or not, we are your local news organization, and this is your followup. I will be following up again to see if charges really do get filed, but sometimes, as you have seen in WSB crime reporting, it can take months. I have the case number. No name yet, but I will eventually get it. – TR

  • d November 7, 2016 (6:58 pm)

    There is a such thing as a sellers report Chris turn that in next time you sell a car and you won’t have that problem 

  • KT November 7, 2016 (8:52 pm)

    Nothing like negative publicity to get Govt to do its job.  

  • Elle Nell November 7, 2016 (8:59 pm)

    Hey Al-

    Unfortunatly, everyone in west Seattle has been robbed… It could be any one of our things… Welcome to the hood😜

  • Elle Nell November 7, 2016 (9:05 pm)

    Also, in defense of the detectives (rarity coming from me).. Had widow busted, purse stolen(my fault for leaving it), had bills in it,(my biggest worry). Got a call from a detective that found the stolen car, with my purse, and bills.. Only bills- called me because found my bills and sent me my brand new purse with a few empty belonging but I was extremely grateful and praised that detective, immensely!! (Which rarely happens)

  • Elle Nell November 7, 2016 (9:10 pm)

    Just sayin… GO Seahawks!! 💙💚

  • Seattle Scofflaws November 7, 2016 (9:43 pm)

    Anyone else notice 2 bottles of V.I.POO on the seat? LOL. Though something tells me it’s used somehow to get high vs its intended purpose.

  • Thomas M. November 7, 2016 (9:59 pm)

    Four times in the last six months people have rummaged through my car (literally a dumpster with a steering wheel).  The first few were shave keys.  This last one was mysterious and so I assume Slim Jim.  They took my spare spectacles.   What the hell do these geniuses want with used eyeglasses?   They popped the cover off my fuse box… like I am going to keep anything in there?  Drugs are bad kids.  Sober up and get a job.

  • Helaina November 7, 2016 (10:06 pm)

    My car was stolen a few years back and found on capitol hill. Same thing there were mac air laptop boxes, other people’s insurance paperwork, all kinds of things left in my car. The police wanted nothing to do with it.

  • WestCake November 7, 2016 (10:25 pm)

    The police don’t have the resources to investigate this type of situation. No question that is a shame. What can be done? Fund the police! The tax coffers are bare due to no state income tax. I don’t think any of us want to run a campaign based on raising taxes in order to fix a number of problems that could use some basic funding. Tough situation.

    • Peel & Press November 8, 2016 (7:55 am)

      I can think of a lot of there reasons that police are not funded beyond a lack of income tax.  It is a matter of prioritizing spending.  The Employment Security Department is currently 50 mil over budget on replacing a computer program (NGTS).  How many cops does that buy?  Seattle just proposed increasing the B&O tax on businesses to pay for 200 additional cops.  That will still leave Seattle with less police than comparable cities our size.  I agree that they are short on resource and have said that from the beginning.  Doesn’t mean I will just look the other way when things go down like this did.

  • Peel & Press November 7, 2016 (11:24 pm)

    I have been pretty careful to not “call out” the police on this but I am a little upset after reading the commander’s comment that they were able to investigate and charges will most likely be filled.

    1) The officer on seen told me that they were not being charged because the could not establish “Knowledge” of the vehicle being stolen because they claimed they borrowed it.

    2) If they were going to investigate they wouldn’t have told me to dispose of all of the evidence!!!

    3) They did not send an officer right away to retrieve the stolen items.  They sat in my control for an additional 25hrs after I called them.

    I want to thank the WSB for covering and following up on this story.  I have seen people say I should “Get Jesse”.  Why get Jesse when you can get Tracy?  I was interviewed by both Kiro and Komo.  Komo has not run the story as far as I know and Kiro did a good job covering the events.  Tracy (WSB) was the only person as of yet to follow up and get a response from the KPD.  We should all be very grateful that we have such an amazing source for new and someone who is relentless at telling the story and following up.  

    Tracy,

    As someone who had their car stolen and fell wronged by police I thank you for following up and asking the question that will cause KPD to examine their handling of this and hopefully ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.  Good journalism doesn’t just tell the story, it sparks change!

  • Jason November 8, 2016 (6:45 am)

    If I get the urge to become a criminal I’m heading to Kent.

  • sc November 8, 2016 (8:00 am)

    Maybe I missed reading it but what was the result with the mail that was found?  Did it get taken to the Post Office?

    • Peel & Press November 8, 2016 (9:52 am)

      The mail was collected by Kent PD.  I would think/hope that they will get it into the hands of the proper postal inspectors.

  • Eman November 8, 2016 (9:24 am)

    When seconds count the police are minutes away…Now, this is not a dig on law enforcement it is simply a message to police yourselves and your property.  There is far to much going on for under staffed, under funded and under supported police departments to handle.

  • Darci November 8, 2016 (11:25 am)

    Any chance there were 3 pairs of Oakley glasses in there?! If so those are ours! Ha! 

  • Nicki Hansen November 8, 2016 (1:28 pm)

    Hey, THERE’S that bottle of wine!  When it disappeared I just assumed that I drank it.  Mystery solved.  ;) 

  • Tracy November 8, 2016 (6:15 pm)

    No tweak.irs would leave the cigs or the wine 

    Fake

    Hipsters 

    • WSB November 8, 2016 (6:44 pm)

      I don’t believe the people found in the car left anything willingly.

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