West Seattle Crime Watch: Alleged converter thief out, over prosecutors’ objections

Two days ago, we updated the saga of accused catalytic-converter thief Joel Lund, described by police as an “active” suspect. The latest update: Just about 24 hours ago, Lund got out of jail. (Thanks to the WSB’er who found this on the King County Jail Register before we did.) Here’s what our research has turned up: After he pleaded not guilty yesterday to the one charge currently against him, malicious mischief, the judge agreed to let him out of jail provided he participates in the Community Center for Alternative Programs, which requires weekday check-ins and classes at a facility downtown. The conditions also included drug/alcohol/mental-health treatment, according to court documents. King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson Dan Donohoe tells WSB that prosecutors opposed letting Lund out at all. His bail had been set at $20,000; he was arrested February 15th for the second time in three days, and he had remained behind bars since then, until yesterday’s decision by Judge Theresa Doyle. Potential burglary and theft charges listed on the jail register remain under investigation, with nothing formal filed yet, according to Donohue. Lund is due back in court for trial-date-setting on March 17th.

P.S. We mentioned in our report the other day that we had been working on a longer story. Since the case keeps moving faster than we do, we’re just going to add the background from that story – on the current case and previous ones – here, after the jump:

At the time of the original arrest reported by police, Lund was booked into the King County Jail just before 3:30 pm on Sunday, February 13th, and according to jail records, he was out, at 9 pm Monday, February 14th.

That apparent freedom lasted a little more than a day. Jail records show that just before 11:30 pm on Tuesday, February 15th, Lund was rebooked, on suspicion of burglary, trafficking in stolen property, and malicious mischief.

The one charge filed against him so far is second-degree malicious mischief. That’s the charge filed in connection with the incident for which police arrested him on February 13th. The charging document calls Lund “a prolific thief who has been arrested for stealing catalytic converters in the past in Seattle and other local jurisdictions,” selling the metal to recyclers, and notes that he has been booked into the King County Jail 15 times in the past five years.

As for the specifics of the case: The probable-cause document says a passer-by spotted Lund crawling under a black pickup truck on Erskine Way that afternoon, then emerging with something wrapped up in a black hoodie. The passerby called 911, and also spotted Lund near a purple pickup that had been circling the block. When police arrived, they found a second man in that truck, along with a woman identified as Lund’s girlfriend; they said they were there to pick him up. Police also noted the man taking off his jacket as he stepped out of the truck, and throwing it onto the seat to conceal a drug pipe.

In the back of the purple pickup, according to the court document, police found “numerous tools and bags” – including items matching what the witness had seen Lund carrying earlier, a backpack containing a saw “typically used to cut metal” as well as a black hoodie wrapped around a catalytic converter. Police went back to check the truck under which Lund had been seen, and discovered its catalytic converter had been recently cut away. They also field-tested the pipe found in the purple pickup, and say it was positive for meth residue. Both Lund and the man from the purple pickup (whose name we’re not using, since there’s no evidence he has been charged yet) were both arrested.

So what about his background? He pleaded guilty to burglary and theft in September of last year, as the charging document points out. He was given a suspended sentence of one year, and a 52-day jail sentence (which he’d already fulfilled by the time of his plea). Checking the court documents for this case, it tells the story of three crimes: One, a burglary in the 5900 block of 31st SW in February of 2010, targeting the home of a woman who was away caring for a sick family member. Items stolen included jewelry, tools, a brass Buddha statue, and brass bells. Evidence linking Lund to the crime included DNA from cigarette butts left at the scene (no one in the victim’s family was a smoker). Two, a catalytic-converter theft in the 4800 block of 38th SW one afternoon in July 2010, with a witness who lived nearby telling police he recognized Lund as the thief because he’d known him for years. Three, he was found in what was supposed to be a vacant apartment in the 5900 block of Fauntleroy Way, where he claimed he was just doing laundry and charging his MP3 player – though he had no permission to be in the unit.

Before that, in December 2009, the document also notes, he pleaded guilty to theft after being caught with stolen copper wire in a West Seattle parking garage. We looked up the documents in that case; in July of 2009, he was found in the Jefferson Square garage with copper wire taken from the Capco Plaza (Junction QFC, Altamira Apartments) construction site. He told police he had received the wire from a known metal thief who wanted him to sell it to a recycler with the use of a business license Lund claimed he had for such sales. For that case, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, according to court documents. (The “standard range” was listed as 0-60 days, with the maximum 5 years.)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Other cases go back further than the online records do, so we don’t have full information on sentences in those past cases. He apparently never has spent time in state prison, since we asked the Department of Corrections for a photo, and they don’t have one, which means he hasn’t been in their system. There is one more piece to the current story, involving an ongoing investigation by an Eastside police agency that ultimately included West Seattle surveillance, but that will have to wait for another story, as the documentation is lengthy. Given the fact Lund is out now, we didn’t want to hold back this part of the story any longer. We promise to keep following up.

26 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Alleged converter thief out, over prosecutors' objections"

  • Under_Achiever March 4, 2011 (1:44 pm)

    Sounds like Mr. Lund continues to be a victim of society and the economic downturn.
    /excuse me whilst i go and check on the whereabouts of my catalytic converter…

  • onceachef March 4, 2011 (1:59 pm)

    Under_Achiever…yeah, I really feel sorry for Lund (ha!)…I hope your comment was sarcastic (can’t tell?). If he knows how to steal catalytic converters he probably knows how to change oil…maybe he should consider working at a Jiffy Lube or car repair place instead of committing crimes?

  • Concerned Citizen March 4, 2011 (2:03 pm)

    The driver and girlfriend should have been arrested too. And all parties charged with the meth pipe…Which explains what they do with the money when they sell the catalytic converter, or wire, or other items…This Joel lund doesnt even have a resendce…he is a transient….Thanks judge your doing a fine job protecting your community…But thats ok you probably live in Mercy Island in gated community…
    Lets let Joel out on a work release program so he scope out other stuff to steal while he fulfills his court orderd obligations. All on the tax payers dime….So first he profits off you by stealing from you, then he profits off of you again by misusing you tax money whgich pays for this programs….Really bright…

  • CandrewB March 4, 2011 (2:04 pm)

    I have to assume Judge Doyle does not live in the Fairmount or Seaview neighborhoods.

  • Bob Loblaw March 4, 2011 (2:08 pm)

    This guy is a long-time and ongoing menace to our neighborhood and a great example of how our justice system is flawed.

  • Under_Achiever March 4, 2011 (2:09 pm)

    onceachef — yes, VERY sarcastic. I have no problem with Mr. Lund choosing to be an (alledged) drug addict — his life, his choice. I do have problems with him stealing from others to support his chosen lifestyle and our permissive society for allowing him to do so.

  • csw March 4, 2011 (2:18 pm)

    “His bail had been set at $20,000; he was arrested February 15th for the second time in three days, and he had remained behind bars since then, until yesterday’s decision by Judge Theresa Doyle”.

    WHAT?? Why did the judge let him out? Good behavior. I want these theives OFF our streets. If the judge sees fit to let him out, she she just take him home and drop him off in HER neighborhood!!

  • mah March 4, 2011 (2:35 pm)

    I cannot believe that the judge let him go. Where was the documentation about all of the disturbances he has caused in the Fairmount area? Get him off the streets!

  • lenguamor March 4, 2011 (2:50 pm)

    Remember this Judge’s name come election day. Too many people forget about these things and don’t vote at all, or don’t vote in the Judges’ races because they aren’t familiar with them – here’s one whose name you should write down with a big “Vote her OUT!!!” notation alongside it.
    It is OUR government, folks – if you don’t like what’s going on, VOTE THEM OUT when they come up for re-election. If you don’t vote, don’t bitch.

  • Bettytheyeti March 4, 2011 (4:41 pm)

    Well, how about West Seattle Justice! I for one have had my catalytic converter cut out off my 4runner and would like to see a poster of Mr. Lund on my block warning my neighbors of this ne’er-do-well. He is no longer a hypothetical crook.

  • Concerned Citizen March 4, 2011 (5:01 pm)

    As I mentioned in a comment yesterday regarding this incident.I know this kid personally.Ive seen the stuff he steals(to include firearms).Ive seen him come and go from jail and prison. Jail to him is a party, its a place to eat and sleep and work out…His friends and relationships benifit from the money he gets from stealing stuff. Why do the scap yards buy stuff from him, why do the pawn shops buy stuff from him. Why is he allowed to walk around our community like he is a respectable member of the community…Its only a matter of time before he hurts someone……I dont have a picture or I would post it…But I can tell you with all certanty that he has been arrested at least 60 time since he was 17, charged is another story….I want to lnow what this eastside investigation is all about…

  • Fishmonkey March 4, 2011 (5:18 pm)

    This is the same guy we keep seeing in these reports and is the suspect for the break-in across the street from my house. And now there are more people living in the same house. The owner died a few years back and has been sitting with no care and the house was full of stuff. I have tried the police and they can’t or wont catch them, I have sent emails to the City, calls to the CPT officer a SW, left messages and no return calls. I give up !!!

    I now this guy is back on the street. He better not come in my yard !!!!

  • Bob Loblaw March 4, 2011 (6:49 pm)

    Bettytheyeti — There are a few pictures folks on the fairmountsprings.org mailing list would be happy to share. This guy’s right to privacy comes up every year when pictures of him start to circulate in email. So, beware that you will get that debate fired up again if you ask for them. But they will be shared.

  • Average joe March 4, 2011 (7:11 pm)

    as a victim of one catalytic theft myself, and a home burglary (separate incident) does anyone know if it is considered ‘appropriate’ to send an email to the judge to register a complaint.
    Personally, I find it ridiculous that Mr. Lund (minor or not) is able to come and go as he apparently pleases in and out of the justice (no pun intended) system.
    If this is an ‘economic’ thing, and our system simply can’t afford to keep gentlemen like Mr. Lund in a suitable place, then why (again) are we talking about a Tunnel that we can’t afford, when we clearly need dollars elsewhere?

  • JB March 4, 2011 (8:31 pm)

    I’m very interested in seeing pictures. Is there a forum topic started on this. Seriously, this guy should be persona non grata in W Seattle, until he decides to give up his life of crime and do something meaningful for our community. Right to privacy? As long as this boy is a criminal, incarcerated or not, juvenile or not, he’s forgone that right.

  • anonymous March 4, 2011 (9:38 pm)

    He lives on the next block to me (Fairmount Springs neighborhood). It’s unbelievable that the judge didn’t take into account all the petty crimes he’s been charged with over the years. Now he’s back to spoil our friendly family-oriented neighborhood again.

  • WsBoB March 4, 2011 (9:58 pm)

    I have had my convertor stolen recently. Terribly painful. The judge letting him out is painful. Lets start a lund babysiiting committee. I will start my 3 hr shift immediately!

  • Highland Park Paula March 5, 2011 (7:28 am)

    From Judge Theresa Doyle’s campaign statement: Judge Doyle chairs the court’s Jail Alternatives Committee, promoting less costly and more effective sanctions than jail, i.e., work crew, house arrest, community service, for low level crimes. Judge Doyle graduated from Rainier Beach High School, the UW, and Seattle University Law School, with honors. Evidently it’s her philosphy to keep a non-violent offender out of jail no matter how many times he steals and no matter how many law abiding citizens he damages. She’s really made a mistake here, and I’m going to let her know how I feel about it.

  • Jeff March 5, 2011 (7:51 am)

    Things like this is why there is vigilantism. Guess everyone knows now how to actually solve this problem.

  • Concerned Citizen March 5, 2011 (1:11 pm)

    I dont condone vigilatizim, protecting your home and family is another story…Someone above used the term “boy” He’s 28….He already has been ran over by a truck in his neighborhood, I have had run ins with him that led to broken fingers on my part from confrontations…But the group of people he was most recently arrested with are contribution to his 11 year crime spree, as well as the people who shelter him…..That house should be protested diretly till he is not welcome there anymore……

  • Carole March 5, 2011 (2:23 pm)

    The reason the various jail alternatives have arisen is because of cost. It costs something like $80/day to house someone in the county jail. The alternative programs cost less. They were developed over time by all participants in the system – judges, prosecutors, defense attys, jail administration, etc., not by one judge. Remember the car tab initiative? A chunk of car tab money used to go toward criminal justice. That went away thanks to the Eyman initiative. Years later, after cuts and more cuts, and layoffs of prosecutors, and court staff, the full impact has come home to roost. Couple that with lower sales tax revenue, less revenue from property sales (fewer sales, and lower sale prices), inflation over the last 5-10 years, an increase in population, etc., and we just can’t put EVERYONE in jail. Sorry, but jails (and state prisons) aren’t free. People want, want, want, but not willing to pay.

  • Concerned Citizen March 5, 2011 (3:47 pm)

    Caroles right….Jails cost money, people outwardly dont want to pay that…
    Meanwhile thought the jail system regadless of how many inmates they house still charge the state money…The amount of prisoners doesnt increase, but the staff of facilities like this decreases and we blam it on the budget. So when Joel come to one of your homes and steals 8000 dollars worth of stuff, your home owners insurance rates go up. Your sitting there feeling violated… And then next week he does it to your neighbor, and then the guy down the street, or maybe in the admirall district or wherever…Oh well at lest we saved 80 a day…..
    The people who should pay are the criminals, not us…But at the same time isnt there at least 80 people in the neighborhood who would gladley contribute 1 dollar a day just to know this gut is locked away…..This @$$hole guy is at home now tweeking himself into oblivion, using the procced from his latest crime spree.Contemplating which of you he will victimize next..Stand up for yourselves people….Ive been in that area since 66…Year by year it gets worse, I believe its cause we put blinders on and refuse to see it, do anything about it or make our “elected” leaders do anything about it…
    And yes Im the same concerned citizen from above posts….

  • T March 6, 2011 (2:53 am)

    This guy is 28 yrs old, not exactly a minor or “a kid”.

  • BettytheYeti March 6, 2011 (6:33 am)

    Here’s a way to save money. Place his photo on flyers in your neighborhood! Prison is for criminals, not drug users. Do crime, do time. Doing both at the same time makes you a criminal.

  • Highland Park Paula March 6, 2011 (7:33 am)

    While I agree this problem is bigger than any one judge, judges still need to be accountable for their decisions. Just because we can’t put all low level criminals in jail doesn’t mean we shouldn’t jail certain individuals who warrant it.

  • Rm March 6, 2011 (12:54 pm)

    Hmmm – how many times was ha NOT caught? I’m curious, wouldnt the cataletic converter from a purple truck fit a black truck? Haha At least you would hear him coming next time….

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