West Seattle Crime Watch: Two possible car-casing alerts

One’s from Morgan Junction, the other from Fairmount Springs – read on:

First, WSB Forums member HunterG was walking to her car on 42nd SW behind West Seattle Thriftway about this time last night when she “saw an individual with a flashlight pacing back and forth, flashing his light upon the mailboxes of a couple Condo buildings and a few houses. I thought this individual might have been lost or was looking for an apartment number, so from across the street I asked if they needed help finding an address, they must not have heard or seen me the first time so I shouted out the question again and walked under a street lamp. The person (I couldn’t tell if they were male or female – it was dark on the opposite side of the road) turned their body toward me and paused, so I knew they heard that time – but they did not answer and instead began walking away toward the bus stop on Morgan St. looking back a few times to see if I was following. The individual was about 5’5” – 5’7” and was wearing a fluorescent safety vest with reflectors, jeans and a beanie-like hat.”

Second, barely a mile away, the Fairmount Springs neighborhood mailing list wanted to forward an alert from a neighbor who saw two men walking along a long stretch of road, peering into car windows, at midmorning on Monday. The neighbor’s spouse “looked out our window and saw (the) two heading north on the sidewalk but slowing down and looking in our car windows. After calling me, she saw them repeat the same procedure all the way to Findlay, then turn around and return south on the same(east) side of 40th (no cars were on the west side of the street).” They were last seen heading west on Raymond from Fauntleroy. (map)

A photo of the two was enclosed; we haven’t had luck blurring their faces so we’ve cropped it below the chins – one of the jackets is fairly distinctive, so you might remember if you’ve seen them:

Both had dark complexions and were wearing black or dark blue knit caps.

16 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Two possible car-casing alerts"

  • the_bridge_to_somewhere January 14, 2009 (6:59 pm)

    9-1-1, THEN write to WSB.

  • the_bridge_to_somewhere January 14, 2009 (7:15 pm)

    [sorry if my last post sounded snotty; I’m just frustrated by the car prowling]

  • WSB January 14, 2009 (7:18 pm)

    Well, regardless of whether it applied or not, it’s important advice. We found out while talking with police yesterday that a burglary case we had reported not too long ago — one big enough that we didn’t even ask the classic “you’ve reported this to police, right” — was NOT called in to them for DAYS.

  • PSPS January 14, 2009 (7:42 pm)

    Yes, it’s a good idea to call the cops as soon as you see this sort of thing. Almost every morning, I see cars with their side windows smashed out and glass on the street. If these car prowlers see anything that might be of value, especially anything that looks like it might contain a laptop computer, they’ll smash the glass and grab it. This can occur day or night — a friend of mind had it happen outside Starbucks during the day while he was inside getting a coffee to go.

  • JJ January 14, 2009 (7:47 pm)

    If they are in public, I think you can publish the faces.

  • BT January 14, 2009 (8:23 pm)

    Unfortunately, our car was broken into sometime during the day today near 35th and Andover. Husband and I were both at work at the time. Neighbors said they had seen two teenagers walking down the middle of the street around the time it happened. No good description though. They got some CDs – more of a nuisance than anything else. Another warning not to leave anything valuable in your cars. Some people have suggested just leaving the doors unlocked to avoid any window damage…

  • Bob Loblaw January 14, 2009 (8:28 pm)

    How does one go abou tgetting ont he Fairmount Springs neighborhood mailing list? Tried registering on the site, but couldn’t really tell much after that.

  • Jody January 14, 2009 (8:31 pm)

    Why are we blurring the faces??? They were in a public place – doing something so not orthodox – not friendly. There is no slander involved – they were doing something suspicious and it was caught on candid camera. Do us a favor – post the actual pictures as its the only way to recognize if they are spotted in our neighborhoods doing as such to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Clothing shots are useless – there is no such thing as clothing recognition – but there is a thing called facial recognition, and you do not need a computer to attain that skill…

  • WSB January 14, 2009 (9:04 pm)

    No, the peeking into car windows was not caught on camera – this is a shot of the two guys walking.

    We currently follow the same policies of every news organization for which I have worked: You generally do not publish photos of people who have not been charged with a crime, with some exceptions (for example, caught on surveillance video committing the actual crime – like the store robbers — or distributing a shot of someone that police are seeking in a high-profile manhunt). Innocent until proven guilty remains the law of our land. However, while some ask why we even publish “suspicious activity” reports at all, we feel there’s value in sharing this information, just in case they WERE casing for criminal activity.

  • R. Burr January 15, 2009 (12:46 am)

    As always, WSB is absolutely on target.

    Publishing faces in connection with reportage about illegal activity without proof would skirt very close to libel territory.

  • kurto January 15, 2009 (7:09 am)

    This is a first for me.

    I’ve seen surveillance videos of crimes being committed but seeing here pictures of people someone says appeared to be prowling cars is different.

    There is a danger that people could purposely report people they don’t want in their neighborhood and submit photo for easy distribution. This is different than actually recording the behavior and then the newspaper (blog) deciding if it was news.

    Don’t get too comfortable in the new surveillance culture.

  • the_bridge_to_somewhere January 15, 2009 (7:50 am)

    Yes, remember the firestorm the FBI received when they showed the faces of two “suspicious” people on the ferry and asked the media to publish them? It turns out those guys were totally innocent . . .

    . . . and that was a firestorm over potential terrorist activity. I should think that a potential car prowl is far less important than terrorism, and as such, WSB’s response is totally appropriate. Publishing faces of people who have not, appparently, committed a criminal act yet and suggesting to watch out for them would be completely inappropriate and, dare I say, anti-American.

  • livingonthebeach January 15, 2009 (10:18 am)

    If anything, over-publicizing these pictures might get these two to think about moving on. If everythin one of us saw them on the street, stopped and pcked up out cell phone, they might think twice.
    I have also noticed the area north of Graham between 40th and 45th seems to be hit hard…what gives?

  • cheyenne January 15, 2009 (11:47 am)

    Our car was prowled yet again the other night, but the cops were called by another neighbor at the same time again, and we think it’s the same guy…near 35th at Elmgrove.

  • dee January 16, 2009 (12:24 pm)

    our car window was smashed in and someone tried to steal our stereo on Sunday night 1/12/09 we live on the corner of 40th and SW Dakota st.

  • snowlion January 21, 2009 (12:56 am)

    I am wondering if the person in the safety vest was a little older? This fits the description of an older gentleman that I’ve seen on my morning walks, flashlight and all. He walks down California between both junctions just about every morning, vest and flashlight in hand, and is in the 5-5, 5-7 height range (I am 5-8, he is smaller than me). I’m guessing he is in his 60s or so. Just a thought; he never says hi to me, and may just be a timid local….casing a house in a safety vest doesn’t seem exactly covert…

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