The crime didn’t happen in West Seattle, but the resolution did, with the assistance of Southwest Precinct officers, and Zach (a WS resident) wanted to share the story:
3 days ago, on Christmas eve-eve, downtown underneath the viaduct, someone smashed my wife and I’s car window and absconded with our ski bag.
In the bag: ski boots, pants, jacket, etc. An intolerable expense to replace. However, as the days went by it was less about losing the “stuff,” as it’s just stuff, and instead, the angst hinged on the nuisance of the insurance claim and getting the glass repaired, and above all, the feeling of obtrusion my wife and I felt. Our karma, we thought, was past due. Insert the SPD.
Yesterday, the day after Christmas, I perused OfferUp (a safer Craigslist) for my recently stolen ski boots. Alas, there they were! I messaged the “owner” of my boots and he agreed to sell me the boots. Amazingly, I got him to meet me at the Home Depot right across the street from the Southwest Precinct. I called the precinct for help and I was quickly connected with Larry Longley, to whom I divulged my story. He asked us, an hour before I was to meet the ski boot “owner,” to stop by the Precinct to see how SPD could help me safely retrieve my ski boots.
In addition to Larry Longley: Officers Andre Constantine, Jack Johns, Ryan Levens, Garth Lindelef, and Ken Mazzuca were there with my wife and I at the precinct. They were gracious with their time, curious, and extremely helpful. They were fervent in their mission to help law-abiding citizens, yet were buckled by bureaucracy. They unmasked my issue as thus: I could not prove these boots were mine (disclaimer, take a picture of all your valuables) and because we couldn’t prove the man meeting me stole them, we were stuck on how to proceed.
With the officer’s guidance, we devised a plan and operated within the boundaries of the law: I was to go meet the “owner” (thief) and ask him a barrage of ski-related questions – that he clearly wouldn’t be able to answer – in order to fluster and redirect him, all the while, the officers did a civil standby (an amazing service I had no idea existed) to make sure I wasn’t harmed. It worked flawlessly. With the police officers behind me, I effectively confronted the thief and got him to admit the boots weren’t his, I then gave the thief $10 to complete a transaction so he wouldn’t file a complaint of theft (incredulous, right?) and I victoriously went on my way.
Thank you Seattle Police Department, for your patience and inclination to help. Keep up the good work!!!
(Though we can’t find an official SPD page about “civil standbys,” here’s a local lawyer’s explanation.)