2 neighborhood alerts: Metal ‘scavenger’; insistent ‘salesperson’

We’ve blurred the plate in that photo from Christopher, who says the man was “scavenging” metal items in the 4500 block of 40th SW [map]. Christopher says the copper lawn ornament and stainless-steel pail were returned after he suggested that might be a good idea; police have been called and provided with the plate number, which reportedly checked to a West Seattle address. Second, ws4ever posted in the WSB Forums about an alert in Arbor Heights/The Arroyos regarding a purported “P-I salesperson” (odd since there’s been no print P-I, just online, more than a year and a half) banging on doors. No description. Police reiterate – call them if/when you see someone suspicious.

36 Replies to "2 neighborhood alerts: Metal 'scavenger'; insistent 'salesperson' "

  • coffee December 19, 2010 (4:30 pm)

    Really, you can’t come up with a better sales pitch??

  • amyc December 19, 2010 (5:51 pm)

    We live in Arbor Heights and had a guy knock on our door last Thursday (early evening). Wearing a maroon ski cap and supposedly selling subscriptions to the Seattle Times. I told him we weren’t interested and he tried what I would consider “the usual” salesman pitches. He was wearing some sort of badge and had a clipboard with him, so it never occured to me that he might be phishing for personal info and that I should call the police. he wasn’t rude and didn’t try to gain entry into the house, in fact he stayed off of our small front porch, two steps down on the walkway…has anyone checked with the Times to see if they maybe do have people going door-to-door??

  • Johnston December 19, 2010 (6:25 pm)

    Had two young men knock at my door 3 times Friday evening. (Each incident about an hour apart) Didn’t answer…nobody I know or would want to talk to would ever knock at my front door! I always use the back/side door! Anyway…two young Asian looking guys. Wearing identical coats. Carrying notebook/binders. Seemed to have some badges from what I saw. Repeated knock was always a “shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits” pattern. I’m in Shorewood, 10000 block 30th.

  • CitizenR December 19, 2010 (6:45 pm)

    OMG! I had a copper yard orniment/sprinkler and wondered what happened to it! Could have been a metal collector! Didn’t even think of that!

  • Ken December 19, 2010 (6:48 pm)

    The scavengers came down the ally between 34th and 32nd about 4pm. They went into the backyard across the ally so I went out to the fence to eyeball the truck and tag number. The antique car collector across the alley had some car parts in an area he is repairing the fence and gate. I told them he was not likely to want them removed.

    This is the really noisy Datsun pickup. I heard it before when my grill with a free sign on it had just the top removed one night (broken off since it was cast aluminum) several months ago. Not exactly a stealth vehicle.

    A new looking green bicycle was being strapped down on top of what looked like a full load of various metal items.

  • CMeagh December 19, 2010 (7:43 pm)

    Christopher- good job getting a photo and having them place the items back. I try to keep a watch on the alley behind our place. We had our downspout pulled off our garage a few months ago. I find the people doing this are not scavenging items, but stealing items from peoples yards.

  • I. Ponder December 19, 2010 (8:12 pm)

    As much as I’d be mad if someone took my stuff (which has happened) I wonder if this is part of the economy, as some people make last ditch efforts to survive. That car’s missing it’s rear window. Maybe the guy lives in it?

    Ron Judd wrote today: So proud to be a resident of the state of Washington (motto: “Arkansas — Plus Moss!”), where the fact that poor children won’t have health insurance is more than canceled out by the fact that everyone gets Dr Pepper for a cent and a half less.

  • Baba December 19, 2010 (8:53 pm)

    I. Ponder, Ron Judd and Mrs Gregoire,
    Please, stop oversimplifying. Like this soda tax was the answer…

    “The number of federal workers making more than $150,000 a year has grown ten-fold in the past five years and doubled since Mr. Obama took office, USA Today reported earlier this month. Since 2000, federal pay and benefits have increased 3 percent annually above inflation, compared with 0.8 percent for private sector workers, according to data cited by the newspaper. ”
    You are cutting in all the wrong places, Madam Governor.

  • bridge to somewhere December 19, 2010 (8:56 pm)

    hey, scrapper: I am glad you got caught on camera. I will remember you and that white Olds. Thanks for being such an idiot.

  • bridge to somewhere December 19, 2010 (9:15 pm)

    (Umm, Baba, you do realize the State government and our federal government are different things, with different budgets, right? The governor has nothing to do with federal salaries.)

  • Baba December 19, 2010 (9:53 pm)

    I do realize it, but I think that you just want to engage in “word play” here. All I’m talking about is the general gov. pay tendency and direction. How is our state different?

  • AlkiAnnie December 19, 2010 (10:53 pm)

    Baba –
    I’m confused..what’s the federal pay/benefits got to do with some knucklehead stealing stuff from folks yards?? Keep to the subject..if you have political gripes..there’s a time and a place..this isn’t it!

  • Shane December 19, 2010 (10:55 pm)

    I live in the Jefferson Square Apartments and had a Seattle Times Salesperson come to my door. It was especially strange since we live in a locked community. Didn’t think it was strange until reading this. Thanks!

  • kmjl0210 December 20, 2010 (12:35 am)

    My partner texted me tonight (we live in Arbor Heights) about a Seattle Times salesperson who banged on our door this past evening (Sunday night). What was weird is that he mentioned, “I bet you enjoy the Post-Gazette” (we are from Pittsburgh)…Hmm kinda strange, just read this briefing and called him to tell him to phone the police, I love this blog, thanks guy! :)

  • Lucky chick December 20, 2010 (9:01 am)

    I’ve heard of the fake salesperson scam before – they are checking to see if you’re home at a certain time, or looking to see if there’s an alarm. Not to say that this is the case here, but really, is the Times selling door-to-door?
    So tired of crime.

  • Kevin December 20, 2010 (11:04 am)

    Had a purported Seattle Times salesperson offering two weeks or months (can’t remember which) free. Thought it was a little odd as well. Youngish guy, seemed above board and left without any discussion. Curious.

  • Mike December 20, 2010 (11:34 am)

    We had ground wires from each utility poll cut and removed from 6′ off the ground a few months back. I had to call utilities to come replace that. Not only is that wire worth big $$$ it’s also there for a reason. If my house had an electrical issue due to poor grounding, I’d have pushed harder to open a police case on it, but luckily utilities just came out and replaced what the robber stole. These thieves are costing use millions each year in tax dollars to replace wire. Throw them in jail and fine them.

  • Rick December 20, 2010 (11:41 am)

    “Word play”? Too smart for our own selves? Maybe just a bit? So many questions.

  • Jim P. December 20, 2010 (11:58 am)

    Had a purported “delivery” guy for the Times about a week ago…claimed to be our carrier but did not know we subscribed to the Fri-Sun editions. Even odder, he is black but a Christmas card from our carrier shows a Vietnamese name. ;)

    Didn’t think anyrthing of it at the time as the card came a couple of days later so didn’t watch to see what the guy did.
    He had some sort of I.D. on a lanyard and a clipboard.

    I suspect some sort of subscription scam as this is pretty elaborate for a house casing scheme and most burglars are not terribly intelligent or clever people.

    Jim P.

  • A.L. December 20, 2010 (12:43 pm)

    A few weeks back, I had a young, nice-looking and pleasant black girl knock on my door in our secured Westwood-area apartment building flashing a laminated receipt and asking if I had received the notice in my mailbox that we would be receiving 13 free Sunday editions of a local newspaper. She too had a laynard and a clipboard and asked if I wanted it delivered to my door or in the main lobby.

    After telling me that I was getting the paper for free, she said that a few kids from the neighborhood would be delivering and she was collecting the money that they would pay the kids with. She asked me to write a check for $23.40 (13 weeks @ $1.80 per week.) Considering we have probably 40 apartments in our building alone, that would’ve been quite the reward for a couple of kids delivering the paper!!!

    When I told her I was flat broke she asked me for a post-dated check. When I told her I don’t use checks she asked for my debit card number. I told her under no circumstances would I give that out, she quickly said “well, you should see the paper come in the next few weeks” and left for the next apartment.

  • CMeagh December 20, 2010 (2:35 pm)

    Mike – I agree that these people who are stealing items are costing everyone and should be held accountable.
    I understand that the economy is bad. I was laid off and have been struggling to make my house payments so that I don’t lose it. I am having a difficult time, but I am not stealing other peoples property, or city property to make ends meet. No matter how difficult things are if you steal other peoples property then you are a criminal and should be treated as such.

  • RG December 20, 2010 (3:13 pm)

    I’m curious about the life circumstances of the man in the photo. I don’t need to know his name or anything; I’d just like to know why he thinks he can steal from people. I hope there’s some follow-up to this story.

  • Baba December 20, 2010 (3:31 pm)

    Food for thought, this time on the subject.
    Just after 2-3 days without food, over 50% of people will steal. After 10 days without food, 90% of people will steal.
    Only 5% of people will never steal if went hungry for a long period of time. Do they all live in West seattle?

  • cjboffoli December 20, 2010 (3:59 pm)

    I’d bet that an extremely low percentage of people committing property crime in our neighborhood are doing so because they are starving.
    I’d also take the bet that, even in our rich nation, very few of us reading the WSB have gone our entire lives without knowing the feeling of making some kind of sacrifice and/or going without something. But I think you’re either a person who believes in working for the things you have or you’re a person who believes you can just take what you want.
    I can certainly empathize with people who are having a tough time. But I think it is a bit over-generous to assume that everyone committing property crime has no other choice.
    My great-grandparents came to this country in 1912 with lint in their pockets. They were horribly discriminated against. They struggled to raise 9 children in the midst of the Great Depression in a country in which they never learned the language. And they succeeded so those children could go to war and fight for their new country. But it was NEVER a viable choice for them to steal to support their family. They broke their backs, as did my grandparents and parents, so that I could have an education and not have to work in a foundry or a marble quarry. And the culmination of their American dream is that I live in a house in a neighborhood in West Seattle in which property crime is constantly being committed.
    So forgive me if my first instinct is not to sit around expending a lot of brain power considering the degree to which all of these criminals are really good people with hearts of gold who are just having a tough time.

  • Baba December 20, 2010 (6:05 pm)

    I do agree with everything you are saying. I’m not excusing it. I’m just trying to look at this problem from the different angle.
    We all know the stats. – The report, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that 17 million people in the U.S. went hungry or did not eat regularly for a few days of each month over seven or eight months last year….Some 17.4million U.S. households – 50 million people – were classified as ‘food insecure’ which meant they regularly skipped meals even if they wanted to eat. –
    So…50% of 17 mil. is 8.5 mil. people in our “rich nation” that WILL steal to feed themselves.
    A long while ago I ended up in a situation when I didn’t eat for 4 days and 3 hours…What is your treshold??? But frankly, I don’t wish anyone to find IT out…

  • CMeagh December 20, 2010 (6:08 pm)

    If people are having a tough time and are stealing because they don’t have food, why wouldn’t they steal food?
    I have a feeling that most are stealing metal to support their drug habit.

  • miws December 20, 2010 (6:23 pm)

    Baba, since you didn’t cite a source for your claim, I did some Googling.


    The only source within the parameters I used, (“how long will people go without food+steal?”) that came close to the claims you make is this:


    The only thing that comes close, is a similarity to only one of the claims you make. Was that your source?


    I couldn’t find any stats off hand, so will not state my claim as fact, but, I have a strong hunch that a much bigger percentage of these metal thieves, or thieves of just about anything, are using the proceeds they get from selling them, to buy drugs, not food.



  • I. Ponder December 20, 2010 (7:04 pm)

    I’m not excusing theft. I just think you’re going to see more of it by people who might not otherwise be doing it. While scavenging objects that are not nailed down is still theft, it’s not burglary.

    If it makes you feel better to think the person is using the $ to buy drugs then good for you.

    Lots of people’s grandparents came over from the old country with nothing but lint in their pockets. Of all the stories they told, it’s possible they never told of the apples they took from the cart when no one was looking. Grandparents rarely told of things they weren’t proud of.

    Stephen Colbert said his great-grandfather did not travel across the Atlantic Ocean to America to see it “overrun by immigrants.” He did it, Colbert deadpanned, “because he killed a man back in Ireland.”

  • christopherboffoli December 20, 2010 (7:17 pm)

    Rummaging through a recycling bin left at the curb is one thing. But trespassing on someone’s private property and deciding for yourself what is available to be taken is theft.
    You can speak for your own great-grandparents. Mine were too proud (and too bound by Catholic guilt) to steal.

  • Baba December 20, 2010 (7:33 pm)

    Regarding the source of my claims…It’s Pentagon…You just have to trust me on this one.
    No sarcasm whatsoever.
    If you left your refrigerator full of food on your front lawn, they probably would…(a lot of Them would for sure…)
    We, as a “rich nation”, keep choosing to pretend that everyone committing property crimes is just another drug addict…How convenient! And sad!

  • CMeagh December 21, 2010 (4:09 am)

    I still think that the majority of people stealing scrap metal are not using the money for food. I am pretty certain that most of the money for the items isn’t going to Thriftway.
    There are other ways for people to get food rather than stealing scrap metal. There is public assistance, missions that provide some meals, and even panhandling. Sure none of them are ideal, but they sure beat stealing and risking getting arrested.

  • Cclarue December 21, 2010 (8:27 am)

    You do not need to steal if you are hungry. We have things called food banks and they give you food for free. And people volunteer their time to help do that . I witnessed this first hand tonite while passing out food there . I live paycheck to paycheck and The last thing that would have crossed my mind if I hadn’t had enough money for dinner or groceries would havebeen to steal someones yard decoration!!!people who steal are wrong no matter why they steal. Like cjb my great grandparents came here with nothing and worked for anything they gained. Theylnew they were owed nothing. What is with this the world owes me attitude? I don’t get it.

  • ElevenTruckmen December 21, 2010 (8:56 am)

    I know who this guy is. Ive seen his car parked in my alley. He tries to sell me stuff all the time. He doesn’t strike me as a drug addict though. He seems to me to be a hustler or con guy. The term I think is grifter. Right now metal prices are high enough to allow a person to do a little “collecting” everyday and survive. In a few years when prices stabilize he will move on to what pays the bills. Glad I never bought anything from him it was probably stolen goods out of a yard. Come to think of it the items were all yard related. Outdoor lights, yard tools, a paint sprayer. Motive and opportunity, that’s all a thief needs and if motive is always there…..

  • RG December 21, 2010 (9:37 am)

    ElevenTruckman, thank you for the insight on this guy.

    Where do people go to sell the items?

    PS to Baba, your heart is always in the right place :-)

  • ElevenTruckmen December 21, 2010 (10:12 am)

    Right across the alley apparently.

  • RG December 21, 2010 (10:34 am)

    I just learned that there are about a dozen scrap metal businesses where thieves can sell items for recycling, but, SPD (along with the business owners) monitor the transactions and share information about suspected thieves. At least that’s something. I guess thieves pool their items as well, to look more legit.

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