West Seattle Crime Watch: Burglary interrupted; heavy-metal theft; mail stolen

In West Seattle Crime Watch – four reader reports about three incidents. First, an attempted burglary as told by both the victim and the neighbor who interrupted.

We’ll call the targeted homeowner E:

There was an attempted break-in (Wednesday) at my house. Luckily the next-door neighbor was home and interrupted their attempt to get in through the garage door; scared them off before they could get in. The police responded very quickly; I was pleased with how soon they were at the scene. The house is … just behind the old Charlestown CafĂ©. The only description we have of the person is that they were wearing a red cap and had a nose ring. We’re hoping the neighbors’ security camera may have caught an image of them …

Then last night, we heard from neighbor B, who scared the would-be burglar(s) away!

Wanted to let you know that I heard male voices and banging noises outside our house around 1:30 pm … and came out to see one guy (couldn’t get a visual on who was with him) trying to break in through my neighbor’s garage (on the front of their house no less). We live near the former Charleston Cafe on 42nd. Got a good look at the guy – looked somewhere between 17-22 years old, white, brown hair, possible nose or lip piercing, grunge style clothes with a bright red knit beanie cap. Broad daylight, corner house via the front yard – brazen. Cops came quickly but couldn’t find them. Keep an eye out.

On now to what you might call a heavy metal theft. Or, heavy steel. From Kristin:

I had a 5′ Kohler cast-iron bathtub stolen out of my back yard (35th & Trenton) between Sunday night and Tuesday evening. It was sitting near my garbage cans in a parking area. It weighed a ton (we needed 3 big guys to move it to where it had been stored), so I asume it was taken for scrap metal.

I filed a report with the SPD, but I doubt I’m going to see my tub again. Hoping to discover if anyone else in the area had metal objects stolen recently so I can pinpoint down the likely day/time of the theft.

And a mail-theft report, from a resident who doesn’t want to be identified:

I’m a long-time West Seattlite and I’d like my fellow WSB’ers to know that mail theft continues rampant in our neck of the woods. I live on SW Cloverdale, in the vicinity of West Crest Park. We’re relatively new to this neighborhood and have suspected some of our mail may have been stolen in the past few weeks, but having recently moved also thought it could have been a problem with the mail forwarding process. Now we are certain we’ve been hit. On Saturday 9/15 we had outgoing mail stolen, including payment for a bill. Fortunately my housemate was notified by our postal carrier, who was suspicious when she saw the flag up, box open and empty. *Please, no lectures in the comments about placing checks in the mailbox.* Anyway, the check was altered and cashed at an out of town branch of my bank. Yes, the thieves made it to the bank and wiped out my account before the stop payment on the check, but not before the initial USPS Inspector and Seattle police reports had been made.

Our carrier indicated this has happened frequently on our street in recent weeks. I’d like our neighbors to help keep an eye out for suspicious people/behavior, whatever that may look like to you, such as sitting in cars on the side of the road for what seems like too long. Someone might just be watching and waiting for mail, package deliveries, etc. And, if you are my neighbor and we haven’t yet met, please don’t be offended if approached by me or one of my housemates asking what you might be up to! I have requested information from SPD on Block Watch for this area. We just want everyone to know we care about what goes on around where we live, and the more watchful eyes we have on our block – or a stretch of blocks – the less likely we are to have more crime. Take care!

21 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Burglary interrupted; heavy-metal theft; mail stolen"

  • coffee September 20, 2012 (10:15 am)

    Surprised that the bank actually cashed it! My bank overly reviews every check and if there is anything slightly wrong they will not take it.

  • JanS September 20, 2012 (10:54 am)

    two words…locked mailbox…I’m so sorry this has happened. Some people are just scum…:(

  • datamuse September 20, 2012 (11:13 am)

    Hard to know if it’s increasing in frequency or more widely reported, but mail theft definitely seems to be becoming more prominent in Highland Park especially. It’s getting so I have everything important sent to my work instead.
    At least once in recent months I was out running and saw what looked like discarded mail on the ground. I went back later for a closer look but someone had already picked it up.

  • Rebecca September 20, 2012 (11:33 am)

    I live near Cloverdale and we have lost mail, including a package. We’re planning a locked mailbox, and we just don’t get anything delivered to our home anymore. We’ve looked into security cameras, to bait and then photograph these charming people, but haven’t set one up yet. On the plus side, you’ve now got evidence of a serious felony that may be something they will investigate, since whoever cashed the check may be traceable and on a bank camera. Sorry to hear that that happened to you!

    There is a block watch, and I encourage you to get to know your neighbors so they know who does and does not belong. Personally, I’d love to find a way to trap these people. Nothing irks me more than people invading someone’s home or private property like that. Even if they got zero parenting (which I assume was the case for these lovely people), they should feel ashamed for being such lowlifes.

  • sacatosh September 20, 2012 (11:35 am)

    There was an old white pickup in our alley on Sunday or Monday. It was about a 1970-1980 beat up truck similar in size and shape to an older F150. It had wood sides built up above the bed, like a fence (2-3 wide boards horizontally, 3-4 vertical posts supporting them) They wood was painted white and said “SCRAPE METAL” [sic] on it in hand-painted green spray paint. It was NOT a tidy job, and they were clearly trolling for treasures in the alley, creeping slowly along.

    I don’t know whether it was the people who stole your tub, but I am near 30th & Trenton, so it very well may be that they were going alley to alley.

  • Neighbor September 20, 2012 (11:48 am)


    There is a huge scrapping operation going at this particular property with many individuals using this as their operations base. Just this morning I walked by and saw a truck with a big load covered with a tarp (probably the latest pull) and was tempted to peek (I did not). I wonder if your bathtub is in there.

    One neighbor had the door ripped off his Airstream trailer while another neighbor of ours has had their copper fence post caps stolen. They are even cutting hoses to steal the threaded metal ends. The cops all know these guys and have responded to this location 100s of times–but they need hard evidence of the thefts to get these people off the streets.

    A group of us has been working with the police department and City attorney’s office to address this–no progress yet but we are hopeful. In the meantime, check the back yard of this nuisance house and call 911 immediately if you recognize any stolen property. You’ll see that the yard is littered with bikes, lawnmowers, scrap metal, etc. . .

  • schwaggy September 20, 2012 (11:51 am)

    White dude, red cap and a nose ring. Shouldn’t be too hard for the police to find this scumbag.

  • Beth September 20, 2012 (11:58 am)

    good to know about the cars just sitting on the street… i’ve seen this on our street before and now i know to go ask the person if they are lost, etc… to let them know we see them.

  • bangles September 20, 2012 (12:13 pm)

    (WSB if you can update the description with more info it might help us spot this little wanker) I’m the neighbor who was witness. Just to add to the description white male (with at least one other unseen male) in a bright red knit beanie – that looked like it gets plenty of use, age 17-22, dark hair, grunge appearance, couldn’t tell from my angle if it was nose or lip piercing. Thanks

  • JR September 20, 2012 (12:15 pm)

    Many gorilla encampments now surrounding nicklesville in green belt and marsh area. Likely suspects.

  • Faith4 September 20, 2012 (1:20 pm)

    A while back there was a warning about a pickup truck with plastic over one of the windows going up and down alleys looking for metal. I had a run in with them one time shortly after seeing that posting and immediately called the police – as I watched where these people went. They actually came to the house where I was at that time & asked if they could take the metal in someone’s front yard. In the posting, they were helping themselves. This group seems to go up and down streets & alleys looking for whatever they can get. I believe this around a year ago in the blog? I’d watch for pickups that do not belong in your neighborhood cruising around the alleys. I have no problem calling the police when something suspicious is going on. I was somewhere in West Seattle a few days ago and did see a bathtub sitting by the curb. I believe this was down below the West Seattle junction to the west….just do not know which street as was just traveling through.

  • Jim P. September 20, 2012 (1:47 pm)

    Sounds like you have a case against your bank. Altering a check’s pay to and amount either takes a huge amount of skill to not leave obvious traces or they did not use common business sense when accepting the check. Even if deposited via ATM, someone should have noticed the alterations.

    In fact, if by ATM, the bank may have imagery of the person which will aid police and/or Postal Inspectors (if you can get them interested in something this small (from their perspective)).

  • bridge to somewhere September 20, 2012 (2:11 pm)

    I think you meant “guerilla” JR, but I actually really like the idea of gorilla encampments cropping-up in West Seattle.

  • Amy September 20, 2012 (2:22 pm)

    sacatosh – I noticed the same (or at least similar) truck in my alley yesterday (west side of 32nd between Myrtle and Othello – Sunrise Heights) around 4:30PM. I was walking east on Myrtle, and as I turned the corner into the alley, I saw a truck outside my next door neighbors’ house. I also heard a banging sound just before I turned the corner – could have been a door being shut or throwing something in the back. The truck moved slowly toward Othello and then it went into the alley between Othello and Webster. It was too far away to see the plate number, but I stood in the alley just so if they were looking back, they’d see that someone was aware of them. Same as you described, it was an old beat up (red & white) pickup with a wooden “fence” surrounding part of the bed. I only saw the truck from the back, so I didn’t see if the sides of the fence were painted white and said “SCRAPE METAL.” I looked around my yard and didn’t notice anything amiss, and I’m not sure what, if anything, they took from the next door neighbor. Probably nothing, because if they had, their watchdog would’ve been barking his head off. I was suspicious, but then I reasoned that if they really were up to no good, they’d have hightailed it out of the alley pretty fast and not moved along to the next alley. I guess I should have trusted my first instinct.

  • Margaret in Vashon September 20, 2012 (2:30 pm)

    especially if the gorillas are wearing bright red caps . . .

  • sacatosh September 20, 2012 (3:22 pm)

    Amy: the truck I saw could have had red on it. I saw it over my fence, so I only saw the top half of it.

    I say that if we see them again we a) call the police on them for suspicious activity, and b) stand in the alley like you described, letting them know we see them and are paying attention.

    The last thing a thief wants is to be in an area where people are paying attention.

  • Duh September 20, 2012 (4:12 pm)

    Yeah, you would think that someone writing a check to clean out his account might at least be asked about the level of service he’d received to date (or she).

  • Bill September 20, 2012 (9:49 pm)

    I have many times seen a truck matching the description given here in several posts — with the home made sides and scrap metal sign on the sides – parked on SW 28th just south of Roxbury and the Safeway Gas Station. — hiding in plain sight

  • sacatosh September 21, 2012 (9:46 am)

    Bill, I’ve seen one parked in that area that has red lettering spray painted on the side – if that’s the one you saw, it’s a different,though similar, truck. This one has bright green spray painted VERY sloppily and it says SCRAPE METAL (not “scrap” but “scrape”) which is an easy identifier.

    Is that the one you’ve been seeing?

  • BlairJ September 21, 2012 (12:11 pm)

    To the new neighbor on SW Cloverdale, you might want to become familiar with the Highland Park Action Committee. Next meeting is 9/26 at 6:30 PM at 1116 SW Holden Street. Strength in numbers.

  • JR September 22, 2012 (5:16 am)

    Haha gorilla…realized I did that after the fact. On another note… anyone missing a mountain bike? I saw a very nice black mountain bike get carried over the guardrail and into the woods fri 4pm. This was a little south of nicklesville in the chimpanzee encampment.

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