West Seattle Crime Watch: “Bizarre burglary” reported

That’s how Roz refers to what she says has happened at her house – read on:

My home is located between Hinds and Spokane on 44th Avenue SW, in what I consider a reasonably safe neighborhood. But in the last month I have had a series of odd home invasions. On at least two occasions, but I suspect more, someone has entered my home with no sign of forced entry, and stolen dozens of books. About a month ago I noticed that the book shelves in one part of my home looked as if some books had been move, it was odd but not terribly disturbing. This week while looking for a particular book I noticed that it was missing from its normal space and a children’s book had been wedged into its place. On closer inspection of all of the book shelves it became clear that dozens of books are missing. The book burglar took the time to cherry pick through numerous shelves only taking enough books to leave the shelves appearing intact. Other books had been relocated to conceal the empty spaces. It wasn’t until the loss hit critical mass and all of the shelves looked sufficiently different, that I became fully aware of the extent of the theft. The burglar has become increasingly bold, taking 50% of the contents of a shelf at eye-level.

In addition to books they recently took CDs, DVDs, vinyl albums, an external hard drive, memory cards, ipods and some wine. Initially it looked like kids but the book angle has me wondering. There was no ransacking and the books that were relocated were handled with great care. I feel like I’m being stalked by a literary voyeur.

If my burglar is reading this please know I’ve notified the police and the neighborhood is on alert. I also want my books back!!!

Anyone with information should contact the SW police precinct.

25 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: "Bizarre burglary" reported"

  • Adam June 2, 2009 (4:36 pm)

    When things seem too incredible to be true, they often aren’t.

  • Huindekmi June 2, 2009 (4:45 pm)

    I suspect a raccoon. A very smart raccoon.

  • Roadsterboy June 2, 2009 (4:47 pm)

    I have to agree that this is a bit of a stretch to believe. If the police are investigating, one of the first things they’ll ask is who else has keys to the home. They’ll also be surreptitiously assessing the homeowner’s mental state to determine whether it’s possible she is just “mis-remembering” these things. (No offense to the homeowner, but they have to eliminate the most likely causes first.) However, if this is really happening, I hope the homeowner has changed her locks already!

  • MargL June 2, 2009 (5:00 pm)

    Funny, I read Adam’s post as meaning “Things that seem too incredible to be true often aren’t too incredible to be true. They are incredible and true.” I’m reading that wrong, aren’t I?

    Roz have you checked with friends? Maybe you have a bunch of prankster friends. We used to re-arrange our co-workers furniture and everything on their shelves when they went on vacation… ‘course this was an open office setting – not a house.

  • bridge to somewhere June 2, 2009 (5:00 pm)

    Roadsterboy is right: if there is no forced entry (and the homeowner locked his/her home properly), then obviously someone else has a key or is breaking in while the homeowner is home.
    I suggest changing the locks and making sure they are locked even when you’re in the house (but in the shower, basement, or whatever). This is definitely more than just a crime, it’s creepy and the MO of not just a burgler, but potentially of someone a little disturbed. Take it seriously and protect yourself.

  • Gina June 2, 2009 (5:02 pm)

    Also remember to recheck all windows, especially basement ones. Sometimes they look closed, but aren’t.

  • democrat with a headache June 2, 2009 (5:46 pm)

    Suggestion. Video camera hidden and running on long play while you are out.

  • KatherineL June 2, 2009 (6:48 pm)

    Can you figure out what’s missing? Is it first editions? Out of print books? Classics? Do you put your name in your books? Maybe one of the used book stores would be a place to look for them.

  • thermo June 2, 2009 (8:34 pm)

    yeah a video camera or wireless surveillance cam. Motion detector and alarm probably wouldn’t hurt either.

  • Courtney June 2, 2009 (10:14 pm)

    Agreed this is creepy and terrible – I know I’d be devastated if I saw my books starting to mysteriously disappear. Someone must have a key or an open window for this to happen. Or, alternately, is there someone in the house that might be selling them or using them for credit at a local used book store?

    Hopefully there is a book inventory list or program being kept so that you have hard proof as to what books have gone missing.

  • WTF June 2, 2009 (10:30 pm)


  • KateMcA June 2, 2009 (11:06 pm)


  • Adam June 3, 2009 (12:31 am)

    MargL: Hah, I didn’t mean for it to be interpretable in two ways, but it’s amusing that it can be read how you’d like.

    What I was trying to convey is that I was a bit embarrassed to read this story on the WSB… Either the homeowner is mentally ill, or someone with keys to their house is mentally ill, or friends are playing a great joke on them. Or, as WTF suggested, hallucinogens.

    Either way, it doesn’t belong here reported as news.

  • WSB June 3, 2009 (12:35 am)

    In 30 years of news, I have heard many crazier-sounding stories that turned out to be true. So we don’t make assumptions, which are bad form in my line of work. We do attribute, which does not imply a judgment has been made, but reports a fact – that it’s been reported, like other more run-of-mill incidents … TR

  • Adam June 3, 2009 (12:46 am)

    Assumptions are at the core of reporting, aren’t they? Otherwise there would be nothing to separate obviously false allegations from what’s worth bringing to light. All news would exist as a sea of noise with useful bits indistinguishable from the avalanche of information spread by people with an ulterior motive.

    There doesn’t seem to be a “lead” to follow for this story, or anything particularly worthwhile. Did the police even take a report? If this story actually happened I don’t see how it’s notable – at best it’s a mentally ill criminal. There are more professional thieves on the prowl in West Seattle that are ransacking houses and stealing valuables (not that books can’t be valuable, but it sounds like these were only of sentimental value. It’d be a strange criminal that could tell what books are worth their weight to steal.)

    Calling it a “home invasion” when the homeowner didn’t even notice that it had happened until after the fact is a bit silly as well. I know that you’re just quoting the submitter, but things like that raise some red flags.

  • WSB June 3, 2009 (1:01 am)

    We don’t edit for terminology if it’s a direct quote, which anything in the blue block is. People call burglaries robberies and sometimes vice versa. Home invasion as the police define it means a burglary with people home when it happened. But to a victim, having your home invaded is having your home invaded, whether you’re home or not. Police also btw have done on this block what they do on every block now where there’s a burglary – flyered urging a block watch.

  • Adam June 3, 2009 (1:04 am)

    I wanted to mention another point: journalistic integrity is why people choose particular sources for their news. A story in the New York Times carries much greater weight than a story in Seattle Weekly – it’s expected that only stories of certain importance, truth, and quality will be selected. (Sorry seattle weekly, I have to pick on you after that silly front page prius=devil story a few weeks ago.)

    I certainly understand what you’re saying about crazier stories being true, but as the shining star of local Seattle news (this blog makes me glad to live in West Seattle – local news for other neighborhoods doesn’t come close) I hope you’re willing to accept some criticism that will in my opinion, help keep things on track. :)

  • WSB June 3, 2009 (1:12 am)

    Oh absolutely, we don’t get enough, although we’re pretty hard on ourselves.

  • alki_2008 June 3, 2009 (1:22 am)

    Checked under the stairs? (Wes Craven fans should get this) Anyone remember the movie “Bad Ronald” from the 70’s? Or maybe the house is just plain haunted.
    Seriously, I agree that a great way to solve this would be a well-placed hidden camera…although I agree that this “report” seems questionable. Of course, it also sounds like this might’ve happened a while ago and maybe the books were taken during a single event…but the extent of the disappearance wasn’t noticed by the homeowner at once, so it seemed to him/her like a repeated event.

  • Sasquatch June 3, 2009 (7:52 am)

    I hope you get your property back Roz or at the very least change the locks. Sounds like an inside job by someone who needs money.

  • Buddsmom June 3, 2009 (11:01 am)

    Housekeeper? Dog sitter maybe? I agree that a “nanny cam”might not be a bad idea. This is just plain creepy weird. Stay safe.

  • JimmyG June 3, 2009 (11:48 am)

    I would hope with a reader report of this type that WSB would wait until they read the SPD report before wasting space here on this “story”.

    My guess is there is a gap between what Roz is reporting and what is in the police report.

    Honestly I was surprised to see this as a WSB story.

  • Mac Mintaka June 3, 2009 (8:28 pm)

    They better not come to my place. They can take my books from my cold-dead-hands. Grrrrr…. ;-)

  • add June 3, 2009 (11:02 pm)

    alki_2008 – OMG, that movie Bad Ronald!!!!! Now I will probably have nightmares tonight.

  • A Neighbor June 3, 2009 (11:42 pm)

    Thanks for taking the time to report this Roz and WSB! I live near Roz and had heard something happened on our street and was grateful for more info. I’m so sorry this has happened, Roz! This really is creepy. To posters here, I’m a neighbor of Roz’s and I’ve had several conversations with her – she is open, warm, good-hearted, bright, and seems about as stable and down to earth as you can get. So I believe her story, trust she has been forthcoming with details and that they match the police report, and trust her judgement in going to the police and sharing this with the WSB. I haven’t spoken to Roz since this happened, but given some of the posts here I wanted to share that. (WSB, in terms of your sharing the story, I trust in your good track record and fantastic credentials – thanks!) By the way, my husband’s car was broken into and items stolen with no sign of forced entry, though it was locked; so it seems plausible this could happen with a door lock or window. Again, WSB and Roz, thank you for taking the time to share this info. I appreciated it and would be interested to find out if/when anything more is learned.

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