Locksmith arson victim: “They just killed my life”


That’s what Puget Sound Key and Lock co-owner Michael Dein just told WSB at the scene of this morning’s arson (note the big red-and-white sign on the window, clearly marking this now as an arson scene). Dein says they had no fire insurance — just the required liability insurance for his business, which is now a charred mess:


He tells WSB they’ve been in this spot at 6014 California since last August, after moving from a location on 35th north of Barton, where he says they were repeatedly hit by vandals, though overall, regarding the fire, he told us he doesn’t have any enemies who would have wanted to do something like this. While we (and lingering TV crews) were there, a woman he described as his “property manager” showed up, and they went in to look at the damage (Dein is in the cap at right):


Just moments earlier, he had told us pleasantly, “You can tell your readers, if anybody has any idea who did this, I’ll come over and make them dinner!” Then, as we walked away from the scene while he got back to tending to the aftermath of this arson, we heard shouts of raw rage from inside the business, apparently as they got an even-closer look at how much they had lost. More to come later whenever new police/fire info is available; as noted previously, there is a chance whoever did this was burned while doing it (police are quoted as saying a “bottle with some kind of accelerant” is suspected), and so might be very obvious to family, friends, or medical practitioners if they seek help. 11:10 AM UPDATE: If you miss it in the comments section – readers are organizing benefit efforts to help the arson victims. Get the latest here; donations can be made at any Wells Fargo branch, to account 5358011681.


41 Replies to "Locksmith arson victim: "They just killed my life""

  • Elizabeth March 21, 2008 (9:35 am)

    What a tragedy. I live nearby and the new owner of this business is so nice, a few months ago he fixed my lock and wouldn’t accept any money in return. I wonder if a fundraiser could be arranged, perhaps at Bevridge Place? I know a lot of people in the neighborhood would be happy to contribute to them!

  • beachdrivegirl March 21, 2008 (9:38 am)

    A fundraiser was just my exact thuoght! It is tragic that an innocent business owner needs to lose his income/life becuae of a couple of punks.

  • k March 21, 2008 (9:45 am)

    we are just 2 blocks from there and heard the sirens early this morning. could not imagine what it was. looked on the 911 report. i cannot believe it’s arson! shocking and sad to say the very least. a fundraiser would is a brilliant idea. i just hope the police catch those responsible. the big question is WHY???

  • andrea March 21, 2008 (9:46 am)

    I think a fundraiser is a great idea Elizabeth! I will definitely participate and contribute if we can get something up and running. I just don’t understand how callously people could destroy someone livelihood like this.

  • JohnR March 21, 2008 (9:46 am)

    This is dreadful news. It’s hard enough to run a business and offer a service to the community without this kind of thing. I know where I plan to buy my next keys and locks. But the business has to get open again. Good luck.

  • Kayleigh March 21, 2008 (9:52 am)

    And the people living in the apartment above could have been killed as well.

    I have seen a small increase in people in the neighborhood who aren’t quite suspicious enough for me to report them to the police, but who I’m not comfortable with being there. (If that makes any sense.)

    Definitely will be more vigilant in the future and hoping the best for the owner.

  • WSB March 21, 2008 (9:54 am)

    I didn’t get it into the copy above but Michael Dein did express great concern for those residents as well — saying “this could have been MURDER!”

  • Bayou March 21, 2008 (10:01 am)

    So tragic and unnecessary. I hope that a fundraiser comes soon for the sake of their business and sanity. It’s small business people like this that our community has to fight to keep right now.

  • beachdrivegirl March 21, 2008 (10:03 am)

    So everyone seems on board with a fundraiser–but who has the ideas?

  • JenV March 21, 2008 (10:06 am)

    Fundraiser might take awhile- maybe we should talk to one of the local bank braches to set up a fund that people can donate to directly?

  • Bayou March 21, 2008 (10:09 am)

    Beveridge Place seems like a perfect location, being close by and all.

  • Jiggers March 21, 2008 (10:28 am)

    I was awkened at 3:40 am by those sirens screaming past my condo late this morning. I knew it was huge call when they kept coming. I’m glad no one got hurt, but I tell you what, all of West Seattle heard that call. On another note, that’s why you get insuramce for your business to protect it from fires and such.

  • Rick March 21, 2008 (10:36 am)

    My business was also burned out (breaker short) 13 years ago fairly soon after moving to my new location so I understand how devastating this can be. I think some type of fundraiser is a wonderful idea as many very small business like this one and myself operate on a shoestring. To put it simply it can mean that if one doesn’t work, one doesn’t eat. I’m not an organizer but willing to help. Good thoughts and best wishes in difficult times. Oh yeah, catch the little rat bas*@!#%! and…….nevermind.

  • beachdrivegirl March 21, 2008 (10:40 am)

    For anyone interested in a fundraiser or helping out their is a thread going under the forums tab.

  • JenV March 21, 2008 (10:40 am)

    Please check in the forum section under the topic “fundraiser” – there is posted info about setting up a donation account at Wells Fargo. I am unable to physically make it up there, so check the forum- someone will get it set up and get the info posted there.

  • JenV March 21, 2008 (10:43 am)

    beachdrivegirl- great minds think alike! ;)

  • hiss March 21, 2008 (11:09 am)

    Guess what? The arsonists were teenagers. What a surprise. Throwing rocks at cars, shooting guns at homes, now throwing malatov cocktails into random businesses.

  • grr March 21, 2008 (11:10 am)

    I truly feel for these people, and hope the criminals get caught.

    but what I simply don’t understand (as a business owner myself) is how either the Landlord or Tentant did NOT have appropriate insurance! It’s just common sense :(

    I’ll certainly attend the fundraiser when it happens. Bev Pub would be perfect!

  • WSB March 21, 2008 (11:17 am)

    Well, it may seem like common sense, but having talked to the business owner at the scene, and being a microbusiness owner ourselves – sometimes you have to make a choice. He said they have to carry $1 million liability insurance because of the business they’re in. Who knows how much that costs? Not to mention the cost of health insurance, vehicle insurance … From what he told me, it sounded like they just gambled with the choice they made, and clearly, because of a criminal act, lost that gamble — TR

  • old timer March 21, 2008 (11:40 am)

    I don’t know if fire insurance would even cover an arson.
    At a minimum, payment would take a while if it did.
    I think this is a horrible thing for our community as well as for the business.
    The time I was there, for keys, they were helpful and treated me very well.
    I hope we can come up with some support for this business as they deserve it, IMO.
    I also hope they are able and willing to rebuild there.
    We do not need empty, burned out stores on California Av.

  • snowlion March 21, 2008 (11:48 am)

    This is absolutely infuriating to me. What is happening to our neighborhood? Innocent people being targeted at random; the more I read these stories, the more I want to move the hell away. Are things really coming to this point? Please keep us updated in the event of some sort of fundraiser. This is so sad, we moved here from Capitol Hill to get AWAY from s***t like this. :(

  • Lachlan March 21, 2008 (11:49 am)

    It won’t stay empty and burned out for safety reasons. If the structure is sound, I guarantee it will be remodeled. Hopefully by the locksmith shop, but if not, then someone else. It’s unsound, it will be torn down.

    RE: the insurance comments- it’s easy to say “they should have had this”, but I think the reality is far less black and white. As WSB pointed out, there are already a number of other things that drain a business, and I have a feeling the fire insurance was the one-thing-too-many. Self-employed people have to pay high insurance premiums in terms of healthcare, and a $1m liability? That’s a lot.

    I’m personally hoping for a collective outreach from us, the community, to help this business owner get on his feet.

  • grr March 21, 2008 (12:01 pm)

    Actually, Lachian, it’s NOT easy to say ‘they should have…” My wife and I have been small business owners and self-employed for over 15 years. Insurance of all kinds is simply something we include in the cost of doing business, and it’s passed on to our customers (as well as being a tax deductible expense).

    actually, of all the costs, the $1mil liabilty policy is the least expensive :) Flood insurance is the worst, Fire is close,especially in an ‘older’ building. Health insurance is assinine.

    I hope that, as a community, we all wil do what we can to help these people get back on their feet. I have been a customer in the past as well.

  • hiss March 21, 2008 (12:06 pm)

    I think that debating whether or not he should have had fire insurance is pretty cruddy right now. Is this really necessary? This guy’s life is pretty much ruined right now. I don’t think making him partly to blame for that is cool at the moment.

  • WSB March 21, 2008 (12:18 pm)

    Again a reminder before the comment thread gets too long, the amazing organizers in the WSB Forum have started a donation account – details are in the forum as well as in our newest update atop the home page – and are working to plan a fundraiser.

  • Aidan Hadley March 21, 2008 (12:38 pm)

    This is both a horrible tragedy and an intriguing mystery. The owner cannot conjure who may have had it out for him and for his business. But I hardly think people are walking around at 3 a.m. with molotov cocktails and randomly targeting businesses. Because of the nature of the business I expect investigators will look to see if this fire was designed to conceal a robbery of locksmithing equipment. Or is there any kind of strategic real estate interest in seeing this business fail and/or seeing the building removed? Is it possible someone knew this business owner lacked fire insurance coverage? I think the fact that one of the suspects was seen to be on fire whilst fleeing gives police an improved chance of finding these criminals and bringing them to justice. OK enough CSI. I’m jumping over to the forums to see about donating now.

  • Lou March 21, 2008 (1:29 pm)

    hiss, I don’t believe people are blaming the owner for not having fire insurance – we are just trying to understand why he didn’t have it. Honestly it was one of my initial thoughts when I read the article also. In any case, the event is still horrible and devastating – hopefully the fundraiser will allow the owner to bring their business back to life. Now to the fundraising tab.

  • TeaLady March 21, 2008 (1:35 pm)

    Mr. Dein, as a small business owner myself, I can’t even imagine how disheartened you must be at this time. I wish you all the best in getting back up and running or in whatever you plan to do going forward. Peace…

  • JF March 21, 2008 (1:56 pm)

    Do the police think this is random? I sure hope not. Scarrrry for the neighborhood. I hope they get the answers fast!

  • I AM A LOSER March 21, 2008 (3:42 pm)

    Maybe the landlords can now rebuild and turn it into expensive high-end condos..

  • WSB March 21, 2008 (4:34 pm)

    The building wasn’t that damaged, aside from this one business.

  • Lachlan March 21, 2008 (4:39 pm)

    Sorry, grr- my experiences have been the opposite and I do think that depending on the business type, insurance premiums can be crippling. So blaming the guy is not the answer. Running a business is hard, and a loss like this is harder. I don’t think there is a way to prepare for everything.

    Bottom line- bad things happen to good people, and as a community we can either ignore people who didn’t plan 100% perfectly or we can help. I’m not saying you specifically are arguing either or, and this comment isn’t directed at anyone particular. Just my two cents, like everyone else’s.

  • hiss March 21, 2008 (4:48 pm)

    I think all West Seattle parents of teens should ask their kids if they’ve heard any rumors about who could have done it. These kids don’t sound like the brightest bulbs – setting oneself on fire when deciding to put stranger’s lives in danger for what seems to be no reason – so you know one of them (I believe the news said there were two teens fleeing) has bragged about it to someone.

  • Bikefor1 March 21, 2008 (6:24 pm)

    I get the feeling this was gang-related. An initiation maybe?

  • Jiggers March 21, 2008 (8:05 pm)

    J/F/Y/I I know for a fact that if you see a pair of shoes hanging above the street on a telephone or cable wire out of reach above the street, its a definite gang turf sign. There’s a pair hanging down by Mcdonalds right now.

  • grr March 21, 2008 (10:16 pm)

    Understod, lachlan..and, to set the record straight, I’m not BLAMING the owner for anything. I plan on making a donation tomorrow.

    – I’ve just always believed that if you’re a business owner, having the proper insurance is important, at any cost. As i think about my earlier posts….my question is more to the -landlord/ buidling- owner than to the tenant, actually…. Just seems like something fell through the cracks, and it’s heartbreaking to see.

    I truly feel for this guy. I used his services a number of times, and highly recommended him to friends. I hope that thru the good will of our community, he’ll be able to land back on his feet quickly.

  • hiss March 23, 2008 (12:20 am)

    Jiggers – sorry, but that’s an urban legend, not a “fact”.

  • WSB March 23, 2008 (12:24 am)

    here’s the page from my favorite urban-legend site, snopes.com

  • AAAJOE April 2, 2008 (6:29 pm)

    I work for AAA and these are one of our contractors we use to help our members and now they are losaing business cause of this..

  • Tom Lynch April 2, 2008 (8:25 pm)

    If anyone knows how to contact Michael Dein, please let me know. We are attempting to track him down to offer some assistance in his rebuild. Respectfully, Members of the Society of Professional Locksmiths

  • Helping out with a fundraiser « SteveandAmanda.com May 19, 2008 (10:46 pm)

    […] business was firebombed, and, by not having the correct insurance to cover it, lost everything. “They just killed my life” was the […]

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