West Seattle Crime Watch: Targeted by burglars, a third time

Out of the WSB inbox, from J:

I would like to share the fact we had the 3rd burglary today (2 break-ins
and 1 attempt) since we moved to 41st and Thistle [map] about two years ago. At least one of the thugs squeezed through an 8″x12″ window in the basement (seriously?). They set the alarm off, but apparently it didn’t stop them from stabbing the alarm panel speaker with a large kitchen knife (baaad speaker, you!). They didn’t harm the horn.

Then they just ripped the alarm panel off the wall – the alarm company reported anyway because it has a battery.

It was a rainy day, so they made a big mess. They decided to leave all other expensive toys and went only for the LCD TV (lucky us). Although, they wrapped the TV with our most favorite blanket.

The cats had a short, but nice time outside until I arrived.

This was at 5:20 pm, open, exposed corner lot in the rainy but bright afternoon. Besides caring less to do this while I usually would have been home already (I wish so badly that I was!), the two guys wearing rubber gloves, hauling a large size TV out of a house with the alarm in the background, the TV covered up sparsely with a blanket and leaving the door open.?

Hey people, come on! They might not look like they live here, nor do I believe their car has ever been seen on our street and they were for sure covered in dirt from crawling under the muddy deck – yet not one person has seen or heard anything. What can we do, if we are all working during the day in this area and the thugs get more and more desperate?

Ah well, one day I’ll catch one.

32 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Targeted by burglars, a third time"

  • Lucky Lou May 6, 2009 (1:37 am)

    Sorry to hear this. As someone with a functional alarm system who was also robbed at a time when I’d usually be home, and also in plain daylight, I can sympathize. Let me guess, the police took over an hour to arrive?

    It would be too much to ask for police to actually patrol their city or to investigate burglaries, which seem to be at out of hand levels here in West Seattle, and why not? The police have crosswalk stings to conduct, and even if they catch a burglar our weak court system will just let them out right away anyway.

  • alkisw May 6, 2009 (1:43 am)

    Interesting. Just pulled up to my place a few blocks below/north of this and found a car driving up my the street slowly with lights off. When I aproached, the lights went on and it sped(sp?) quickly up the hill. Maroon (but it was dark), looked 4 door, tried to get the plate but it pulled away to quickly. I was seriously thinking they were scoping out my house and I usually would be the person who thinks ‘oh, just a couple of kids..’. No, this looked weird/unusual but not enough to make me think to call the police… Maybe I should think twice next time. If you think it could be related I would be happy to speak to the officer handling your case. I am sure wsb can let you know my email.

  • neighborly May 6, 2009 (6:59 am)

    Sounds like you need to start a neighborhood block watch. On our block, we know who is at home during the day, and we keep an eye out for each other. It only takes a gathering once year or so to make connections and generate a list of phone numbers. Now we feed each other’s cats and share lawn mowers, and have even been become friends. It’s one pretty simple way to begin to build a community where you live, and help take control of neighborhood safety.

  • Kelly K May 6, 2009 (7:14 am)

    My neighbor was broken into last night (5/5) for the second time in recent months at 32nd and Thistle. This time they seemed to know she’d be gone for a while because they ransacked everything and got at pretty much all of her valuables. She’s an elderly woman who was already shaken up enough from the last break-in so I’m livid. And she’s the one who is usually home all day to watch our block! Our block really looks out for each other but we didn’t notice anything suspicious. Any other neighbors have a tip for us?

  • tammyw May 6, 2009 (7:34 am)

    What bad luck you have had. At least you have kept your sense of humor. Loved reading your reiteration of the robbery, but really feel bad for you.

    Robbers are pretty bold sometimes – my car was broken into in front of an Elementary school in broad daylight – they took my GPS (shame on me for leaving it on my dash). Police made an appearance, but that was all.

    I hope a block watch can work for you.

  • B-Squared May 6, 2009 (7:44 am)

    WOW! 12″ x 8″ window….at first i thought “underpants gnomes” but not with them taking the TV. Seriously, i am sorry to hear about this. I would probably be in a ballistic state about now and considering ways of booby-trapping my house! the neighborhood block watch is really a good idea. we have one in my neighborhood. there are actually quite a few people who are home during the day and once people start to recognize each other and their cars, the out-of-the-ordinary start to really stand out. we have a map of our street with a list of who lives in which house and how to contact them. not everyone participates, but the vast majority do. best of luck with cleanup, repair and future security.

  • Leroy May 6, 2009 (8:14 am)

    The same thing happened next door a couple weeks ago. We are on 42nd. I was home and had no clue it was happening – feel bad about this. Since then, I’ve popped my head over the fence every time the dog sneezes.

    It seems like they wait long enough for the new TV to arrive and then strike again.

  • Erin May 6, 2009 (8:19 am)

    J, so sorry about the break-in. It’s so violating to know someone has been in your private space! I don’t live far from you and am now going to be even more careful… I felt safe because we have an alarm too, but I guess with these people getting more bold, the blaring alarm and delayed police call doesn’t deter much.

    I am keeping my eye out even more now.

  • TeresaP May 6, 2009 (8:48 am)

    Soory to hear it happened J, I am livid that this is happeneing.

    We all have to keep our eyes open. And I advise if you feel comfortable to make it known to any strangers that you are aware of their presence in your neighborhoods.

    I found guy walking right through my property on Sunday evening around 800pm. He was in a orange swetshirt with a hood and I confronted him as he walked past my back door. He actually jumped when I yelled at him and asked him what he was doing on my property.He claimed to have run out of gas at Lincoln Park and was looking for a gas station. I advised him I was not buying his story and he was to NOT to come onto my property again.

    Turns out he knocked on several doors in my neighboorhood looking for gas money.

    I live at 44th and Portland and my property is NOT easily accessible so I am guessing he was scoping.

  • Jason May 6, 2009 (9:05 am)

    If you have a PC, I think it’s time you setup a Motion Sensor Web Cam to catch the bastard. This tutorial uses a free app and shouldn’t cost you anything

    How to use your PC and Webcam as a motion-detecting and recording security camera

    Hope that helps!

  • thanks May 6, 2009 (9:59 am)

    We live right there. We have lived here for 9 years and never had a problem. But, this is great info. We have an alarm and always think that makes us safe. I think though its our 100 lb German Shepherd that does it! I will make sure to give him an extra hug today.

  • chris May 6, 2009 (9:59 am)

    Re:”I think it’s time you setup a Motion Sensor Web Cam”

    Just make sure that you are storing the data off-site (ftp/website/etc) so you still have the data when the PC is also stolen.

  • Madashell May 6, 2009 (9:59 am)

    We live in a great organized neighborhood also. I had a piano delivered the other day. The moment the white panel truck backed up to our front door, an unidentified neighbor walked up and asked my mover what he was doing. He was very impressed and made sure I knew people were watching.

    You should invite neighbors over and have the Southwest Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator present how the neighborhood can protect itself better.

    I’m sorry you had to go through this.

  • another thing May 6, 2009 (10:01 am)

    Yesterday on 39th and Thistle I saw an Enterprise rent a truck driven by an Asian male. For some reason I thought it was odd as he didn’t really look to be moving. Maybe used for burglaries? If its a ring I wouldn’t be surprised.

  • WSB May 6, 2009 (10:03 am)

    We’re a few blocks west and we saw perhaps that same truck. It appeared to be destined for a remodeling site across the street from us. P.S. Let me mention again what we’ve noted in the Alki shooting threads – the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council, a GREAT meeting to attend – or at least to send a neighborhood rep to – meets May 19, 7 pm, Southwest Precinct.

  • Amy May 6, 2009 (10:09 am)

    This is probably a good time to re-iterate that I’d much rather have a “nosy” neighbor than a disinterested one. If you’re scared that your neighbors would be upset that you’re interfering, don’t be. If you see something weird, say something, or call 911.

  • onceachef May 6, 2009 (11:23 am)

    What day was this? On Saturday there were a couple of young guys (not necessarily “kids”) cruising our neighborhood on foot (near Trenton and 36th) which is pretty close to your place…at least within walking distance. My wife and I noticed them, thought they looked “peculiar” (looking around, walking slowly, pointing, hoods on) as we know most of the block residents…so my dog and I sat on the front porch for a while in case they came around again…I was fully prepared to ask them what they were doing as this crap has been going on too much lately in our neighborhood…couldn’t hurt to let them know they were being noticed….but they never came around again….unfortunately they might have ended up at your house (this was earlier in the afternoon).

  • Brian May 6, 2009 (12:36 pm)

    I will always be a nosy neighbor and thank both of mine that they are as well.

    This $#&*&*# needs to stop.

  • Save Our Streets Seattle May 6, 2009 (12:44 pm)

    Can someone explain to me exactly what the Police in this city do for all the money they get paid. They make WAY more than I do, and I’ve apparently seen more crimes than they do just about every day. The Seattle Police Department is asleep at the wheel. I live on a block where AT LEAST 3-4 people are home all throughout the day and break-ins happen, drugs are bought and sold, and kids get into fights walking home from school that damage personal property. It’s WAY more important to give a driver a $200 ticket for going 23 MPH in a school zone than stopping the school kids from breaking and destroying the neighborhood on their way home. (Can you tell I live near Sealth High?)

  • Save Our Streets Seattle May 6, 2009 (12:46 pm)

    AND, unless you’re bleeding to death at the exact moment within a few blocks of a hospital, the 911 dispatchers act like you’re interrupting their coffee break.

  • Tony May 6, 2009 (2:27 pm)

    Seal off that window!

  • JM May 6, 2009 (4:36 pm)

    Thanks for all the good advise and sympathy. I am no different than some of us, by automatically profiling the potential perps. But just looking for hoods and other “typical” dress codes etc. may actually blur our perception a little. I do consider myself multicultural and tolerant, but heck, I do look twice if I see those signs and yes “B-Squared”, I am still very angry (was more than furious yesterday). However, it is better to be extra suspicious. Also thanks to all suggesting the neighborhood watch, I am ready for it.
    I know I am not the only one this has happened to, I just want to inform, so that we can be even more aware and alert. This is key to get back public awareness. Back when I was a kid (150 years ago), everyone knew everyone and unknowns were immediately spotted. But what we don’t need, is a rise in recklessness on both sides which I believe led to the Alki shooting (which wasn’t really a surprise to me, rather a matter of time).

    The window is sealed and a sensor attached, the house is clean and life goes on. BTW: the only way to get through this window is either by a kid or a very, very small person. I will be beefing up security even more and so on – but what remains, is the feeling of being invaded and violated by strangers while being powerless.
    I have enough and I will be ready for the next round. They should hope that I will never catch them… Cheers.

  • JM May 6, 2009 (4:46 pm)

    @ Kelly K:
    BTW, if there is help needed for the elderly woman (cleaning up, repairs etc.), please let me know. I may have some extra time, I do know how it feels like and I am happy to help.

  • Josh May 6, 2009 (5:28 pm)

    Sympathies to J – dogs are way better security than an alarm. As for the comments about SPD’s lack of activity – that’s what happens when they get slapped around by the public everytime they get pro-active in dealing with actual criminals… Not to mention the fact that Seattle has about 1 officer (not patrol officer, but an officer of any type – be they working the desk, transporting prisoners, etc) for every 3000 residents. The national average is about 1 for ever 150-200.

  • spd May 6, 2009 (8:59 pm)

    Seattle Police has the same staffing levels as they did in the 1970s. They are completely understaffed and crime is rising rapidly as the economy falls apart and people become more desperate. For them to catch a burglar or a car prowler in the act there would need to be one car per every five blocks just driving around and around. But they are instead responding to calls that include accidents etc. I am tired of the police being blamed for this as if they want people to get burglarized. I live a block from this incident. A month ago I went outside and saw a police officer ON FOOT walking up and down the street searching in-between homes with a flashlight for a prowler. They do a great job. And as far as their pay, I think putting your life on the line for others is worth a little extra pay. No one questions that when you talk about a firefighter. Either way I agree, it is time to mobilize as a community now. It’s time for self-empowerment. Thanks to the blog for getting the ball rolling.

  • Zog May 6, 2009 (11:10 pm)

    I write about gadgets, so I tend to think tech when I hear of problems like this. It wouldn’t likely have saved your poor stabbed alarm, but if you could get a picture of them, you would likely be able to get your stuff back and them arrested.

    I found this light a while back at Costco, who unfortunately doesn’t carry it any more. It looks and works like a normal motion light, but it has a hidden digital still/video camera in it, and an SD card. It even snaps pics during the day when the light doesn’t come on. They have the motion camera light online here.

  • JM May 6, 2009 (11:26 pm)

    I totally agree with you. Who in the right mind would sign up for a dangerous and important job and ending up just sitting on it and cruising. Although I have to say that I am disappointed about their last responding time before this burglary at about 50 min.(!), I still want to believe that the police is doing whatever they can within their abilities. Also, it is not any different than in all our jobs – there are some that are very serious about their job and some who are a little – let’s say – laid back.
    I guess that the bottom line is that this specific field of a job is so complex, let alone dangerous, that we as a community should do whatever we can to help – which is the entire point. SPD may seem to react slowly, I agree, but look at what they have to deal with. One argument which has been made, is the fact that they may be able to catch the perp with lots of extra effort and then they see this same perp walk under their eyes again, because of the local, unfortunate legal system. Frankly, I am happy that the folks from the SPD are still trying.
    Coming all back to ourselves. Let’s start “public awareness” again, as I clearly see deteriorating more and more in our society. That’s my main concern, what is yours?!

  • WSB May 6, 2009 (11:30 pm)

    One thing to keep in mind regarding response to a burglary is that they have to respond to life-safety calls first. If the burglary is clearly over, and no one is hurt, other calls might have to be prioritized first. Just something to keep in mind – TR

  • JM May 6, 2009 (11:33 pm)

    @ zog:
    Thanks for the info. I just checked, and actually security companies are fishing for customers with exactly this argument: get the criminal on video!
    Some of them (ADT, Honeywell and my firm) have video capturing on their wishlist already. Maybe I am wrong, but instead, I am planning on getting a pretty loud exterior siren in addition, so that people outside or even inside neighbors homes are able to detect the alarm – simple as that. I believe that is one part missing. Other options are valuable just as well.
    We will see in the next round…

  • JM May 6, 2009 (11:37 pm)

    I understand the priorities the police has to valuate, but in this specific burglary, the responding officer enthusiastically told me that they had 3 cars “in the area” at the time. Yet it took him over 30 min. to respond to my emergency…

  • Save Our Streets Seattle May 7, 2009 (12:23 am)

    “Start a Block Watch” is Seattle Police language for “Your Neighborhood Is Not A Priority To Us.” How many block watches are there in West Seattle? Hundreds! How many block watches in Madison Park?

  • Mustafa May 11, 2009 (2:21 pm)

    I hope you people keep in mind that a Block Watch — just watching the block — is insufficient. If you people watch the block like you watch TV, the burglaries going on around you will at best be entertainment. If you see a weirdo, use your brain and investigate. Don’t just watch them. Maybe go take a camera, snap a quick photo of them and ask them why they are standing around your neighbor’s shed or trying to open locked car doors. Bring a friend for safety. Or better yet, a gun.

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