Door-to-door alert, followed by a “gang drop box” sighting

This came into the inbox Friday night from a longtime WSB’er who prefers to be unidentified:

After dark tonight a young woman knocked on our door near 45th & Edmunds [map] to offer new windows and energy efficiency survey. She was polite and left when we declined. Within an hour we found a gang ‘drop box’ on our corner. While assuming the two activities are unrelated it makes me
uneasy and we will be more than usually vigilant tonight.

We hadn’t heard about “gang drop boxes,” so asked a followup:

Seems gangs ‘drop’ a cardboard box where they want to mark territory or schedule some event. Because it’s just a cardboard box most of us would ignore it. Our corner box was heavy cardboard 8x8x3ft. A gang name was painted on it. We don’t know if there is an event code on it because we don’t know about this stuff. The box would have been dropped between 6:00 and 8:00 tonight. The original shipping label was to an individual on Queen Anne.

A family member with law-enforcement ties is the one who spotted it, our e-mail correspondent explained, adding that the family member subsequently spoke with a police officer who offered this additional information: “… that the boxes (or spray paint on garages, etc.) act like a GPS system for the gangs. He said for us not to worry because the paint color on this box would say ‘keep going’ as an arrow would.” We can’t find any evidence of this phenomenon on Google, but maybe it’s known by another name – we’ll make a note to follow up with police next week to find out if this is something new and if there’s something you should do if you spot one. (Or maybe YOU have expertise to share?)

17 Replies to "Door-to-door alert, followed by a "gang drop box" sighting"

  • A neighbor January 10, 2009 (7:08 am)

    Sounds like a good reminder to everyone to keep your neighborhoods clean; covering up graffiti quickly and keeping litter off the sidewalks and street.

  • amused January 10, 2009 (8:08 am)

    Sounds like somebody has been watching too much television.

  • Rhonda Porter January 10, 2009 (8:39 am)

    This is a good reason to make sure to have ana active Block Watch in your neighborhood.

    I’m glad the WSB reader posted this so we can all be aware of this–I’ve never heard of a Gang Drop Box before.

  • candrewb January 10, 2009 (9:39 am)

    Don’t these gang-bangers know littering is illegal?

  • Also amused January 10, 2009 (9:46 am)

    With the winds we’ve been having lately, the thought of using an empty cardboard box (of any size) as a marker of any kind is laughable. They might as well make their mark by spraying some water on the sidewalk. Woof. :)

  • JimmyG January 10, 2009 (10:32 am)

    I’m with amused, too much TV.

    I suppose the “family member with law enforcement ties” would also tell them that shoes thrown over power lines mean gangs, or that you can buy drugs there, or any other number of urban myths associated with that phenomenon.

    I’d hope before posting about a so-called “gang drop box” WSB would verify with SPD that 1) gang drop boxes exist and 2) they are used in the Seattle area.

    I call BS on a gang drop box. Yes, spray painted graffiti signifies some gang boundaries or claims areas, but using a cardboard box? Nah.

  • WSB January 10, 2009 (10:38 am)

    I have edited out some specifics because this comes from correspondence that unlike some “reader reports” wasn’t cut-and-paste ready, but rather a conversation; this is a person I have met and have no reason to doubt. If it turns out that they somehow got bum info (from a police officer?), I’ll update it on Monday, but that’s the next time I expect to be able to reach somebody and I didn’t want to hold it till then. The lack of online references seemed unusual in one respect, which is why I mentioned it, but after sixty skabillion years in the news biz, I also am more than well aware that an absence of previous reporting of something does NOT necessarily mean it doesn’t exist.

  • ws angel January 10, 2009 (11:37 am)

    Hey West Seattle Blog,
    We love you guys & gals. Keep up the good work – and we love all of your efforts at being reliable and thorough. Love the comments that make us laugh. We all need a laugh – especially about now! WS folks are so talented. Perhaps a new venue for decent (not off color) Stand-up comics anyone?

  • EastBayForever January 10, 2009 (11:38 am)

    I lived in Oakland and I have never heard of a gang drop box. Maybe I didn’t visit East Oakland enough.

  • BobLoblaw January 10, 2009 (12:28 pm)

    can someone post how to make a “keep going” gang drop box? Would love to put one on our corner …

  • Daniel January 10, 2009 (1:23 pm)

    I don’t know how many times this has to be said, but you’re not supposed to “cover up graffiti quickly” like the first commenter.

    The police explicitly say doing so could lead to retribution from the gang. You need to phone the police and make a report when you find gang graffiti. Don’t remove it until they say it’s OK.

  • lina January 10, 2009 (1:27 pm)

    many years working with youth that were active in gangs… never heard of a drop box like the one described. they have other ways of designating territory to my knowledge.

  • TheHouse January 10, 2009 (9:20 pm)

    Perhaps a gang member was looking for diaper donations for Westside Baby?

  • Michael January 11, 2009 (5:05 pm)

    Daniel, could you point to something official to back that up? A link to SPD or another official site would be great. Thanks!

  • Michael January 11, 2009 (5:08 pm)

    In fact,I just did it myself. Here’s the SPD page:

    Paint over graffiti and repair vandalism immediately.

  • WSB January 11, 2009 (6:39 pm)

    Thank you, Michael, I knew that and got sidetracked while intending to look it up and add it to this thread yesterday. And I have heard it repeated by police in person as well, including gang experts (whom I will be trying to track down tomorrow to find out something more definitive about the “drop box” concept) … TR

  • xoxo January 11, 2009 (7:45 pm)

    The idea is a little scary though, that your neighborhood or house might be marked – when I was a kid there were a group of teenagers robbing houses and they would visit/solicit and case properties/owners, etc. and then leave a whole orange peel in front of the house as a marker. As a kid I was really scared of this!

Sorry, comment time is over.