West Seattle Crime Watch: Shoplifter alert; doorbell burglar

Two West Seattle Crime Watch reader reports – one, an alert for local businesses about an potentially prolific shoplifter; second, yet another report of a mysterious doorbell ring that in this case preceded a crime – read on:

First, Tracy at Twilight Gallery in The Junction wants to be sure other local businesses are on the lookout for this shoplifter:

Yesterday about 4 pm – a woman came into the shop, took about $300 worth of jewelry and I confronted her on California Ave and got my merch back.

She is about 50 years old, long brown hair, gray at the roots, glasses with a long black wool coat. She looks Eastern European with a slight accent. I’ve seen her before and I suspect she’s stolen from me before.

She was in West Seattle Optix when I found her and she threw the merchandise into the ashtray in front of West 5 as I followed her. She then headed toward CLICK!. We called over there but she was not in the store. I filed a police report and gave a description. I have seen her before. I will be installing cameras this week because I can’t begin to tell you how much stuff she had in her pockets. A real pro, this one.

Also, when I went through the jewelry she stole, I noticed that a pair of earrings were NOT from my store. They are gold and black dangle leaves. I can stop by some of the local shops to see if they belong to anyone.

Tracy has filed a report with police.

SECOND: A doorbell ring in the middle of the night, with no one apparently there, might not be your imagination or a prank. Last night we heard scanner traffic about another mystery ring, at least the third one we’ve heard of in the past week; today, a reader shared a report from his neighborhood e-mail list. We’re not using it verbatim since it did not come directly from the victim, but it happened in the North Admiral area around 11:30 pm. The doorbell rang; it wasn’t answered; then, writes the victim, someone “broke the glass panel to our outside door and unlocked the door.” The would-be burglar was subsequently chased off but also had apparently unscrewed the light bulbs in fixtures behind the house. This is the third time in a week we’ve heard of the mystery doorbell ring; first one was in Seaview, mentioned in this WSCW update last week; second one came to us from Admiral, via an e-mail question.

Police say that you should not simply ignore a doorknock or doorbell ring, whatever the hour, because it might indeed be a potential burglar – you don’t have to answer it, but making it clear someone is home (perhaps shouting “Can’t come to the door right now!”) could prevent a break-in attempt.

ONE MORE REMINDER: Neighborhood crime-prevention info and more at West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network tonight, 6:30 pm at the Southwest Precinct, Delridge/Webster.

28 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Shoplifter alert; doorbell burglar"

  • 2 Much Whine January 28, 2014 (2:24 pm)

    We had a doorbell ring in Admiral a couple weeks ago. It happened at about 2:40 AM and the pooch went ballistic. Checked out the window and saw nothing. Assumed that the paper hit the doorbell as it was tossed on the porch but that is pretty early for the paper. Now I’m wondering.

  • Seattlite January 28, 2014 (2:35 pm)

    The doorbell ringer is disconcerting to say the least.

  • ocean January 28, 2014 (2:44 pm)

    This morning at about 10:35, as I was leaving Target, I saw someone matching all physical parts of the (alleged) shoplifter’s description! She caught my eye because she wasn’t crossing the planter area to the bookstore when most other pedestrians would have crossed.
    WSB, any idea to whom I can report this, because the security cameras at Westwood may have her on them?

  • alki Resident January 28, 2014 (3:34 pm)

    I’ll be letting them know Im home once they get in. As far as the lights being taken out in the yard, I suggest getting the lights that are on a long metal pole and attach it to a high part of the house so nobody can reach them.

  • AJ January 28, 2014 (3:34 pm)

    This (these?) would-be burglar is both stupid and brazen. Odds are people are home at that hour and the house is dark because they’re asleep. This really creeps me out because there’s no way my doorbell would wake me up. If no one answers at that hour, are they really that stupid (or high, more likely) to assume no one is home? Or do they not care and they’re banking on the resident sleeping through the burglary? Someone is going to break into the “wrong” house and end up shot to death.

  • kelsey January 28, 2014 (4:30 pm)

    My husband woke up around 3am monday morning to knocking on our front door. He got up and didn’t see anything. We’re in arbor heights.

  • al January 28, 2014 (5:31 pm)

    Is any if this happening near 42nd ave and oregon?

  • West Seattle Transplant January 28, 2014 (6:59 pm)

    I’ve instructed my wife that while I am away from home on business, if anyone unexpected comes to the door in the middle of the night, to simply shout as loud as she can, “I am very scared with a 30-6 that can take down a half ton bull Elk! How much do you weigh?!” So far… no problems. ;)

  • Pibble January 28, 2014 (7:17 pm)

    I’m Alaska and 49th a few weeks ago at around 11 someone pounded on my door, I didn’t answer but stood by the door and could hear the pots by my front door being moved around. I’m assuming now they where looking for a hidden key. I let my two big dogs let them know someone was home.

  • WTF January 28, 2014 (7:31 pm)

    Hello Ring-Runner.
    I know you’re reading this blog, and I’m sure you’re enjoying reading about yourself; sick pleasure I suppose. You know people are home at that hour and asleep. Unscrewing light bulbs and your tricker will do nothing but piss people off. If you attempt or succeed in entering someone’s home, they will protect themselves, and like AJ said, eventually you will ring & enter the wrong home and end up in a box.

  • Trick January 28, 2014 (8:00 pm)

    I had the same thing happen at my house around 3am in AH.
    I just shot out of bed, walked by the window looking out, and no one was there.
    My backyard lights never came on, thought it was a little strange. Didn’t sleep the rest of the night.

  • LP January 28, 2014 (8:58 pm)

    I received a doorbell ring at 2:30 last Thursday night. Thankfully I am a light sleeper. I went right to the door with my .45, asked what was up, and let the person know I was home and armed. I did not get response but hope the potential burglar took me serious. I’m in Highland Park.

  • High Point Res January 28, 2014 (11:03 pm)

    All of these instances are really frightening. I would wake up to window breaking sure, but what would I do then? Scares me.

  • Julia January 28, 2014 (11:11 pm)

    That sounds like a woman I came across in the Discovery Shop in December. I had the strong impression that the staff there knew her and were suspicious, following her closely.

  • Gatewood January 29, 2014 (12:21 am)

    I don’t have dogs, but I have 2 small infants and no husband home until the wee hours of the morning (bartender) I sleep with my car keys on my nightstand, if I hear anything awry, I set my car alarm off. Chances are, at a late hour neighbors will be annoyed and at least look out their window to see whose car is making all the racket.

  • Admiral Too January 29, 2014 (1:24 am)

    The door knocker came by my house in 2011. I emailed WSB at the time as I was wondering if this was happening elsewhere. Mine was about 10:15 on a Friday night. I turned off my living room light and looked through the blinds. Tall black man in a bicycle helmet. I didn’t feel safe. I’m black too so this isn’t a race thing. I grabbed my baby and called the cops but he was gone by the time they got here.

  • guest January 29, 2014 (6:49 am)

    I live alone in Normandy park/burien and about two weeks ago had a knock on my door at around midnight. I didn’t have anyone coming over, and didn’t feel safe answering that late at night, so I just assumed I was hearing things and ignored it. About ten minutes later the knocker came back, this time knocking a bit louder (so normal knocking instead of the initial light knocking) and a male voice called out ‘hello?’ He then rang the doorbell. When I didn’t answer again, he left. I called the Normandy park nonemergency police because he didn’t seem violent, and they sent someone over. I didn’t catch a look at him, he was always gone by the time I had the courage to walk towards the door to look out the peephole. Scary to hear others are having mysterious late night callers too. Maybe he’s not the same person, but now I’m rethinking that night.

  • Smitty January 29, 2014 (6:59 am)

    Typically, burglars look for a lack of garbage accumulation before assuming the house might be empty.

    If you are ever away, ask your neighbors to put a few bags in your garbage can.

  • Elaine January 29, 2014 (8:47 am)

    Argh… I’m a female who works out of her house, usually home alone. My policy has been that I don’t open the door to someone unless I know them — for safety reasons and to avoid solicitors(our “no solicitors” sign doesn’t do much good).

    Now ignoring the knock/ring isn’t a good idea either. Seems like we’re “damned if we do, damned if we don’t”…

    I’m interested to hear more ways people respond to knocks/rings from unknown people, during the day and at night.

  • DBurns January 29, 2014 (9:59 am)

    We’ve always taught our kids to respond when someone knocks or rings like this (alone or not):
    “Someone get the door”
    Different person or different voice
    “You get it”
    “I’m not getting it, you get it”
    “You get it”
    You get it…
    It only happened once for us when that guy was going around asking about Comcast – real/fake we’ll never know.
    Plus we have a giant dog who barks, and ADT. So far it’s worked – those are my tips!!

  • Danielle January 29, 2014 (11:48 am)

    This door-knocking tactic is such an abuse of neighborly trust. A few months back I was leaving for a really early morning at work, about 5am. A car in front of me hit my neighbor’s cat (two blocks from my house, I’m not acquainted with this particular neighbor). The cat may have been alive, but I didn’t dare knock on anyone’s door at that hour (even though living room lights were on) precisely because I thought they’d be suspicious and scared. I wish criminals didn’t give people good reason to feel that way, or provide a disincentive when there’s a good reason to knock on someone’s door.

  • Sara January 29, 2014 (8:04 pm)

    Danielle, I had a similar incident in my neighborhood just last week. Injured cat, needed to find the owner quickly.
    I took a deep breath and knocked on a few doors, and introduced myself as a neighbor as soon as someone answered. It turned out to be a very positive experience, and I feel safer and better about my neighborhood having met a few neighbors face to face.

  • Fraizer January 30, 2014 (7:16 am)

    Dear Door Bell Ringer,

    If you ring my bell and don’t get an answer, please for your life sake, don’t assume no one is home. Because if I choose not to answer and you choose to come in, then I will choose to ring your bell.

    Thanking you in advance.

  • technoluxe January 31, 2014 (8:22 pm)

    I’m at 49th and Alaska also. I just got back from a few days away, and the person housesitting for me said that someone rang the doorbell during the day last week; she didn’t hear the doorbell until it was too late, and she saw the person walking away. The next day, the doorbell rang again and she answered it; the person at the door said he was from West Seattle Blog and was doing research to get residents’ opinions on the possible door burglar. I’m not sure if the person at the door provided identification or proof that he was affiliated with the blog. She hadn’t heard about the doorbell burglar and only vaguely knew about West Seattle Blog (she’s not from around here), but she was very uncomfortable and unsure about the situation, and cut the conversation short.

    WSB – can you confirm that this was someone affiliated with the blog? My housesitter said the person was male and of a larger build.

    • WSB January 31, 2014 (8:34 pm)

      WHAT? No, we don’t ring ANYBODY’s doorbell. We don’t solicit interviews from crime victims, fire victims, etc. and never EVER go to people’s houses. EVER EVER EVER. The only people who (reprehensibly in my view, but that’s just me) do that are TV people – they have no qualms about running around knocking on doors trying to find people with the vaguest of leads. I heard one TV station did a story about the doorbell burgling and maybe it was them? Even when we receive e-mails from crime victims for Crime Watch, we PURPOSELY do not publish full names or exact addresses in hopes of preserving some fragment of people’s privacy. Every once in a while we get a report of someone fraudulently claiming to be associated with WSB but this is the first time in a long while.
      Again, we would not EVER turn up at someone’s doorstep. Oh my gosh. It’s one of the things i like best about this format – instead of having to bother people for “man on the street” opinions like TV people do all the time, we have a place for people to give their opinions voluntarily if they want to – here in the comment sections.

  • Laura January 31, 2014 (11:43 pm)

    Thank-you WSB for maintaining a boundry unlike the media who watch you walking your dog and jump out of their van and across the street to get your comment on the latest incident whatever the nature. My only comment was no.

    • WSB January 31, 2014 (11:48 pm)

      Thank you. We speak on panels from time to time and one thing I always say is: You do not HAVE to talk to the media. Ever. (And if I can put in one more pitch – Heaven forbid you ever have a child caught up in a difficult situation, but if you do, PLEASE do NOT let them give interviews. Don’t let some TV chicky talk you into it saying it’ll be therapeutic or cathartic or something. /soapbox)

  • technoluxe February 1, 2014 (8:21 am)

    WSB – Thanks for the input! It’s more than a little disconcerting that the suspect might be using the West Seattle Blog name to cover their tracks. My housesitter said that the guy that came to our door saying that he was from WSB really gave her the creeps and that the situation just seemed really wrong. She didn’t call the cops at the time, as she wasn’t sure if the person was legitimately from the area or not. What’s creepier is that when this event happened, there was obviously someone home — this was in the middle of the day and her car was parked in my driveway (whereas usually I’ve got mine parked in my garage and you wouldn’t be able to tell if anyone is home or not). Although I have exterior cameras installed on my home, I just found out that unfortunately they weren’t running at the time. Grr. I would have loved to provide the cops with some video footage of this guy. The cameras are definitely running now, so if he shows up on my doorstep (or any of my external doors) again he’ll be on Candid Camera. ;)
    Hopefully this thread will send a message to the perp that people are paying attention!

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