West Seattle Crime Watch: Police arrest smash-and-grab suspect

(scroll down for updates added to original report)
ORIGINAL 9:56 AM REPORT: Just in from Seattle Police: A suspect is in custody in the smash-and-grab burglaries that we’ve been reporting on for three weeks. Southwest Precinct Lt. Norm James says that SPD and King County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested a 50-year-old man around 2:30 am “in the Burien area.” Lt. James says, “This individual is suspected of committing 40 smash and grab burglaries in the south Seattle and Burien areas. The suspect has been booked into the King County Jail.” A check of the jail register reveals a 50-year-old Burien man booked early this morning on suspicion of multiple burglaries, with status listed as “bail denied”; a crosscheck of court records shows dozens of cases, though many are from municipal courts around the region and therefore not necessarily criminal – we’re taking a look at those for which docket information is available.

10:17 AM UPDATE: The arrest has just appeared on SPD Blotter, with no additional information except to say that the 40 burglaries date back to July 1st; the first West Seattle break-in we covered was the one at the Swinery on July 16th (above, our photo from that morning). The most recent one we covered in West Seattle was at Admiral Shoe Repair on Monday morning. Police confirmed to WSB on August 2nd that the smash-and-grabs were being investigated as an official “pattern.”

11:52 AM UPDATE: King County Prosecuting Attorney Office media liaison Dan Donohoe says the suspect will not appear in court until a bail hearing tomorrow afternoon; after that we should get more background in the case. Further researching the aforementioned suspect, court records show a conviction in the 2006 theft of an ATM from a tavern, a burglary that started with glass broken by a brick; in spring 2007, he was sentenced to 55 months in prison. (The paperwork for the original charges in that case lists a history of convictions going back to at least 1991, as well as “85 warrants.”) We are checking with the state to try to find out when he got out of prison.

2:26 PM UPDATE: The sheriff’s office has added a bit of extra detail regarding where the suspect was arrested. This is from their announcement of the arrest, which we just received:

A team of detectives conducting surveillance in Burien responded to an audible burglar alarm at a motorcycle repair shop located at South 159 and 1st South. The detectives located a suspect in his vehicle and took him into custody.

34 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Police arrest smash-and-grab suspect"

  • Jennifer August 11, 2010 (10:05 am)

    Where would I go to see if my property was recovered from this suspect? We had a smash and grab a month or so ago that went unreported. All they got was my husband’s cell phone. But it would be nice to get that back.

  • HelperMonkey August 11, 2010 (10:05 am)


  • um August 11, 2010 (10:15 am)

    Jennifer, why don’t you call the Southwest Precinct and ask them

    • WSB August 11, 2010 (10:36 am)

      If you have a case number and a detective name for a crime case, you can certainly check, although the morning someone’s arrested is likely way too soon for them to have inventoried anything seized (and until we get some additional paperwork we don’t know that anything has been) – TR

  • k August 11, 2010 (10:38 am)

    woo hoo!!!!

  • austin August 11, 2010 (10:54 am)

    Prolific SOB. I can only think of the cost of the property damage vs what must have been meager takings (as I’ve never worked anywhere that left cash outside of a safe after hours). Extremely late hours combined with brazen and nonsensical MO; Meth is the only explanation I can think of.

  • JanS August 11, 2010 (11:03 am)

    and how many people out there were thinking it was a “punk kid”? 50 years old…hmmm…

  • Under Achiever August 11, 2010 (11:14 am)

    @ JanS —

    Some of the punkiest punk kids I know are 50 years old….

  • JJ August 11, 2010 (11:30 am)

    Way to go SPD and KC Sheriff!!!!

  • cjboffoli August 11, 2010 (11:32 am)

    Excellent! Nice work SPD!!!

  • Lucky chick August 11, 2010 (11:46 am)

    Yesterday SPD said I’d be unable to recover my stolen bike rack unless I had a serial number. They said it would just sit in an evidence room. REALLY?? I filled out a report and could describe my rack, but they wouldn’t give it back to me?? Why bother even calling them (rhetorical, yes, I know the reasons to report, blah blah…. but I’m pissed).

  • VoiceOfTheJunction August 11, 2010 (11:50 am)

    Sadly in these types of cases the prosecutor bundles all the burglaries together and offers a deal. The criminal will probably get 90 days in jail and pay $1,000 fine.

    Rarely do criminals have to make compensation to the businesses or issue apologies to those that they have victimized.

    We Seattle Blog should follow this case and if convicted, post the picture and name of this guy so that the neighborhoods can ostracize him.

    • WSB August 11, 2010 (11:56 am)

      VOTJ – see the latest info I’ve added. We WILL follow this case closely. And assuming he is charged, his name will be public as soon as charges are filed. Given the background we’ve discovered so far, 90 days in jail is exceptionally unlikely, but of course you never know.

  • KT August 11, 2010 (12:27 pm)

    Let’s see…sentenced to 55 months in jail some 36-40 months ago yet he has now been out since at least July when this started. System works well doesn’t it?

    • WSB August 11, 2010 (12:45 pm)

      KT, there’s a whole ‘nother story in how sentencing works (or doesn’t). As we learned while covering some other high-profile cases in recent months, almost everybody gets “time off for good behavior” unless some sort of not-good-behavior happens in prison. So apparently few sentences are what they appear to be on the surface. Not sure how that got around to happening, but it’s probably in the annals of legislation somewhere … TR

  • Bianca August 11, 2010 (12:32 pm)

    wonderful! very interested to see what he looks like and find out more deets.

  • AnotherIdiotInWS August 11, 2010 (12:57 pm)

    Soooo… where are all those people that complained how the SPD are out can’t seem to nab the criminals because they are too busy doing things that are wasteful, like handing out parking tickets and helping kids at Target?
    Good job, SPD. And keep up with the Community Relations stuff. It’s working.

  • sarelly August 11, 2010 (1:03 pm)

    Thieves should have to financially compensate the people they steal from and also apologize. I don’t see what good jail time does in such circumstances besides delay compensation for the victims. I doubt jail is ever a deterrent.

  • mark August 11, 2010 (1:26 pm)

    Using the “Jenks Precedent” as a recent model, maybe the smash-and-grab perp would be interested in just writing a check for the damage, and skip jail time altogether. It worked once.

  • LMA August 11, 2010 (1:35 pm)

    that is really sad that he had to do that :(
    desperate times

  • Lucky chick August 11, 2010 (2:44 pm)

    Yeah, I really feel sorry for the guy who had to steal my bike rack *sniff*

    [ok, no more teasing the troll]

  • Cclarue August 11, 2010 (2:51 pm)

    Lma the times are irrelevent if u are a junkie or a theif . There’s no excuse for what he did. All that damage for hardly a few bucks , come on

  • Cheryl August 11, 2010 (3:34 pm)

    I’m VERY glad to hear that the suspect has been caught. I hope he goes away for a lot longer than 90 days, since clearly he won’t be able to actually PAY for the damage he’s done to property or the money and items he’s stolen.
    Punk indeed.

  • Baba August 11, 2010 (3:59 pm)

    I don’t know why, but I strongly anticipate another mental illness defense strategy. It seems to work exremely well nowadays.

  • miws August 11, 2010 (5:31 pm)

    sarelly, I have a hunch that losers like this guy, considering his apparent record, would only be able to pay back their victims by continuing their life of crime.


    This guy, if he has done what is alleged, needs to be locked up for a good long time.



  • michele August 11, 2010 (7:38 pm)

    YAY!! I guess I take back what I said in my last comment made about this dirtbag and the SPD.

  • Waterworld August 11, 2010 (10:27 pm)

    Regarding the good time issue, and particularly the assertion that “almost everybody gets time off for good behavior,” I think it’s more complicated than that.

    The amount of good time a prisoner can earn varies enormously, from none to 50%. Defendants who are convicted of a crime involving a deadly weapon or firearm typically get five or more years tacked onto the sentence for the underlying crime. There’s no good time on that at all. On a serious violent felony conviction (things like rape, murder, assault, and robbery), an offender can earn up to 10% off. (It was 15% prior to 2003). Less “serious” violent felonies are eligible for up to 30% credit. Finally, on low level offenses (drug possession, non-violent theft offenses, trespassing, and the like) an offender can earn up to 50% good time credit.

    In addition, the legislature has imposed a risk assessment process, meaning that even if a prisoner earns the time, he or she might not get released early if the department of corrections deems the person a high risk to reoffend.

    I think it’s worth noting that good time credit has been a part of most state’s sentencing scheme for decades. It’s nothing new and it’s not a legislative aberration. Any policy such as this can be debated, of course. The reasoning behind allowing offenders to earn time off their prison sentences is that it encourages them to follow the rules, to participate in classes and work activities, and it provides positive reinforcement for good behavior — something that many offenders have never experienced before.

    I am not familiar with this offender’s history, but I gather it is significant. Prosecutors are not required to bundle up all the incidents here and it is likely anyway that he will get a much longer sentence than before. Also, sentences are increased when the person was recently released from prison, because the new criminal activity is also a violation of probation conditions.

    • WSB August 11, 2010 (11:09 pm)

      Thanks, love to hear the nuances. … TR

  • Weissbiermann August 12, 2010 (8:02 am)

    We had someone break into our office and grab laptops, high-end monitors, etc. He was armed and was caught. Jail time won’t be significant also because of the budget…fewer prison employees means smaller populations, means non-violent offenders get out sooner.

  • Gary August 12, 2010 (9:31 am)

    This “alleged” criminal hasn’t even been to court, proven innocent or guilty.

    Many posters here have him back in jail without the benefit of trial.

  • engie August 12, 2010 (9:58 am)

    Come on Gary…many posters have this “alleged” criminal back in a “hypothetical cell”…the right to express their freedom of speech, trumps this “alleged” dirtbag’s right to a fair trial. But go ahead…you can bleed all over him if you must!

  • Julie Baker August 12, 2010 (2:25 pm)

    I am curious to see a photo of him.. Not that our survailence tape was all that clear but our smash and grabber did not seem like a 50 year old man.. Moved like a stealthy younger person. Maybe he has a side kick??

    • WSB August 12, 2010 (3:35 pm)

      Julie, I have just covered his bail hearing and posted a new story. He certainly appears lithe and somewhat younger than 50 – he has brown hair in what some call a “mullet” style and a thin mustache. He is only about 5-7. But there’s also a chance that your case may NOT be one linked to him – we won’t know until and unless charges are filed (at which time we will publish a photo and his name) which cases they are linking to him – there certainly have been other smash-grab burglars, possibly even still operating out there now.

  • Nat Turner August 13, 2010 (6:39 am)

    Poor guy. He’s probably depressed. Maybe his father didn’t teach him how to ride a bike as a kid. Or maybe its societies fault for not coddling him. I personally think its Obama’s fault, but im not sure. I DO know that it IS everyone’s fault but his own. Who knows, it’s probably my fault somehow. Oops, I just spilled my latte all over my Prius seat while texting on my iphone. Crap! Im late for my yoga class ;( Life is SOOOOOO difficult.

Sorry, comment time is over.