Crime Watch followup: NO current teen burglary gang, police say

Wanted to publish this separately since as mentioned this morning, an e-mail claiming a teen burglary gang is active in West Seattle seems to have ricocheted around the peninsula: Southwest Precinct Lt. Norm James has talked with detectives – the people in the precinct who work burglary (among other) cases – and they are NOT dealing with anything resembling what was described in the widely forwarded e-mail from a burglary victim. Burglaries, yes; organized gang of students, no, he says. The confusion, says Lt. James, might be arising from ongoing followup to the arrests late last year of several teenage burglary suspects, but he stresses there are no “burglary patterns” of any kind active in West Seattle right now.

14 Replies to "Crime Watch followup: NO current teen burglary gang, police say"

  • Michael January 26, 2010 (12:45 pm)

    Shame on the person(s) who created that chain e-mail. Spreading fear to your neighbors is a crime in itself.

  • jwws January 26, 2010 (1:30 pm)


    The person who sent the e-mail was indeed burglarized (lost jewelry, electronics, peace of mind etc) and notified a group they belong to of the incident. It seems a lot of folks from that group’s e-mail list then forwarded the original post to WSB. I can’t speak to where the OP got the “teen gang” info but the incident was very real and was meant as a heads up to everyone – not chain e-mail fear mongering.

  • d January 26, 2010 (3:00 pm)

    Well, I guess that kind of classifies as good news in a pretty backa**ward kind of way.

  • ial January 26, 2010 (3:10 pm)

    For the Record:

    I am the burglarized victim who lives near Riverside Park. The crime occured in a 90 minute period over lunchtime last Friday the 22nd. The back door was bashed in and everything sacred to me, including my peace of mind, was stolen. My house was ransacked, not vandalized. The officer who responded told me that THERE ARE high school kids some are in gangs, some want to be (his term, not mine) who are committing these crimes during lunch-hour in West Seattle. They then return to class and have an alibi of being “in class”. They are highly trained and wear gloves so no prints are left. If this is not a “gang” or “gangs” then keep living in a bubble like I did. The police dropped my entire case 3 days later for “lack of evidence”. I met TWO OTHER VICTIMS getting new locks, doors, etc. at Home Depot the following morning. They had BOTH been subjected to the same crime, same day (the 22nd). How many victims does it take to see a similar pattern of criminal gang activity? You can keep your head in the sand and be unprepared as I was, or be alert and try to protect yourself. Isn’t that the very point of this blog?

    • WSB January 26, 2010 (4:21 pm)

      Yes, we write about burglaries and the other most-common crimes – car prowls – here, over and over and over again. We share prevention tips. We cover the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council and the South Delridge/White Center Community Safety Coalition. Definitely burglaries are happening, and what happened to you is awful. But especially because the e-mail was so widely circulated – even though we receive a ton of e-mail from the community, all types of notes from event announcements to crime reports, every day, it is highly unusual for us to receive multiple forwards of a single e-mail, from people all over the peninsula – it was important to find out what police have to say. (They also had received calls from citywide media who read this morning’s report and were ready to chase down a story.)
      In the years we’ve been covering crime, both for WSB and other news outlets, I have never heard of them closing this type of case several days after it happened – if you e-mail me your case #, I can check on that – maybe it’s a misunderstanding, because while there may not be anything left to actively investigate, certainly they have made burglary arrests weeks, months after break-ins, and been able to tie them to specific cases, which I don’t believe are ever “closed” – labeled “inactive” maybe?

  • Mary January 26, 2010 (3:53 pm)

    More info from the police would be very helpful. How many break-ins are happening in West Seattle per week? What do the police consider a typical number per week? How many daytime burglaries of a similar type defines a “pattern”? And please define “late last year”. Does that mean late 2009? Or last spring?

    • WSB January 26, 2010 (4:04 pm)

      Late last year = late in the year. Within the past few months. Crime stats = You can look it up all the way down to what’s happening around your house.

  • Michael January 26, 2010 (6:25 pm)

    To answer the original chain e-mail sender’s assertions, yes people who burglarize often do it more than once – usually if they catch a burglar it solves a string of cases. And most burglaries happen during the day, because that’s when people aren’t home. We’ve been over all that.
    But as far as the wilder claims, there’s still no police department confirmation to the statement that “highly trained” (what, because they use gloves?) groups of kids (oh, don’t forget to insert “gang” here for extra fear factor) are performing some kind of regular burglaries at a specific time of day (you’d think that would make them easy to catch!).
    As WSB says, a lot of this stuff doesn’t pass the smell test. Fact is that this looks like a garden variety burglary. I don’t wish it on anyone, but sometimes your number just comes up, so to speak.

  • Ial January 26, 2010 (8:18 pm)

    No, Michael. “highly trained” because that was the EXACT phrasing the officer used, you arrogant jerk. “gang” because, as I’ve already said, that was the exact term the officer who investigated the crime used, you unsympathetic moron. Did it happen to you? No. It happened to me, and I was the person listening to every word the officer said. What the H gives you the right to get on this post and question crime victims? My life’s history of family heirlooms and gifts from loved ones is gone, forever. My sense of security is shattered for the rest of my life. Yet you have the nerve to use this blog as some sanctimonious and ignorant platform to speak out of your A? Michael, guess what. Your number is up.

  • E January 26, 2010 (10:31 pm)

    Settle down, ial.

  • shane January 26, 2010 (10:42 pm)

    I find it disturbing that we apparently live in a neighborhood where we should expect to be periodically burglarized “when our number comes up”, and accept it happily.

  • CMO January 27, 2010 (9:42 am)

    I was with the victim when the police officer responded to this burglary and can attest to the verbiage the officer used (“gangs,” “gang initiation,” “organized,” “professional,” etc.).

    To somehow suggest that making ones neighbors aware (by whatever means) of what an officer conveyed during an investigation is “fear-mongering” is the height of ignorance.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

  • MargL January 27, 2010 (8:15 pm)

    It’s interesting and somewhat disappointing that an officer in the SW Precinct responded to a burglary and made it sound like one thing is happening yet Lt. Norm James, who wasn’t the responding officer, says there’s no reason to be using that terminology.
    Officer Right Hand, please meet Officer Left Hand.

  • Discussed January 27, 2010 (10:15 pm)

    Wow… between “E” and the other doubters and naysayers who responded here, it seems like they think this crime was “Okay”??? What kind cesspool are we living in that we get these kind of “it’s cool on the crime” – comments??? West Seattle Crime is getting SUPER-SERIOUS right now and I really wonder where these “settle down” comments are coming from?” The kids who are committing crimes are all getting little baby slaps for their deeds in WA state these days and especially Seattle. I wonder if the police might think of talking to “Michael” and “E”–to get their perspective on “Calming down” — to get a better handle on why we should do just that?? “Michael and E” – what can you tell us about your unique perspective?

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