West Seattle Crime Watch followup: Street-robberies investigation update; precinct commander says possible connection in 2 of 5 cases

(Wednesday night WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
As we work to follow up on the five street-robbery incidents in West Seattle we’ve covered in the past week, there’s new information from the Southwest Precinct. This update from precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske has just been sent to community groups:

I wanted to update everyone on a series of incidents we have had occur here in the last week, as I have had a lot of folks express concerns, as well as the desire to keep everyone up on significant events.

We have had a total of 5 theft/strong arm robberies since January 15th, most targeting younger victims that range in age from @14 to 18. The items taken are personal electronics, either laptops, pads or cell phones. The two most recent happened along California Ave SW, with the others in the areas of 6500 42nd SW, 36th SW and Myrtle, and 26th SW and Thistle.

Based on what we currently know about the incidents, there may be a connection between two of the cases. Several of the others appear to be stand-alone incidents that have not been repeated in the area.

We have distributed what info we have to the patrol officers so they can be aware of the incidents and suspect descriptions, and they are spending the time they can in the areas most commonly used by students as they travel to and from school. The precinct detectives are working the cases, and they will have access to any and all resources of the precinct, and we will draw in more department resources if they need them.

I will update you as things progress, but wanted you to know that we are aware of this and working on it as a priority. I have cc’ed Mark Solomon on this email, and he will also be sending out some safety information.

Mark Solomon is the SW and South Precincts’ Crime Prevention Coordinator, and his forward of this note included that safety information. We’ll attach it shortly, along with other information we’ve been working on today. First – here are our links to WSB coverage of the incidents mentioned in Capt. Wilske’s note, newest-to-oldest:

*Wednesday evening robbery in North Admiral, with coverage including info about Tuesday incident
*West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting coverage, including discussion of incidents
*Followup report on Saturday morning Morgan Junction robbery
*Same-day coverage of Saturday morning Morgan Junction robbery/carjack attempt
*Coverage of Friday robbery in Westwood
*Coverage of Thursday robbery in Gatewood

ADDED 12:49 PM: Here’s the safety information mentioned above:

(If you can’t see the embed – we hear it’s glitching for some – here’s the PDF.)

ADDED 1:57 PM: The West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network has just announced that Capt. Wilske will be at the WSBWCN meeting next Tuesday (January 27) to talk about this, 6:30 pm at the precinct, all welcome.

Meantime, from the police report on the Tuesday incident, how it unfolded: The victim was at Admiral Safeway with friends at about 2:50 pm and about to leave to head home when the two would-be robbers came up to him. One asked if he could use the victim’s phone, and said he didn’t need to hold it, but just asked the victim to hold up the phone and dial a certain number. The number didn’t connect. The victim left the store and crossed the street; the two confronted him on the northwest corner of California/Lander (by Lafayette Elementary). The report says one stood behind the victim while the other “grabbed his belt loop and tried to reach into his pocket where (he) had put his phone.” That’s when other teens, described as West Seattle HS students, “pulled (the would-be robbers) off” the victim, who they told to go home, which he did. The victim’s father told us that kids should specifically be warned to NEVER let anyone they don’t know use their phone – he says these two were apparently approaching others in the Safeway area first, and then, when his son left the store alone, went after him.

39 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch followup: Street-robberies investigation update; precinct commander says possible connection in 2 of 5 cases"

  • Alkigal January 22, 2015 (1:12 pm)

    I wonder when the police officers will make a connection between these crimes and calls they get for neighborhood assistance. We ask for help all the time by constellation park on beach drive at 1, 2, 3 in the morning. Just for a drive by and clear folks out. Three times now, there has been a report of a stolen car and an accident, or a theft. Connect the dots. It’s not that hard. They are hanging out down hear chatting about their night. We call. No one comes. If they do, it’s 30 minutes later after they have wound up their loud cars and raced off down the street at breakneck speed. Yes, I am that cranky neighbor who gets no support from dispatchers.

  • mmarie January 22, 2015 (1:54 pm)

    Thanks WSB! What resources/materials does SPD have targeted at kids/youth who want to protect themselves as best possible?

  • Joel January 22, 2015 (1:57 pm)

    I appreciate the update, but why is there still NO acknowledgement that the earlier call of suspicious activity was ignored in the Thirftway robbery. More of the usual program from the police. After the damage is done they respond and appear to care. But try to call and report anything suspicious. Prepare to be ignored until the situation escalates. The economics of prevention don’t seem to be any motivation.

  • WillBeHOnest January 22, 2015 (2:23 pm)

    Another safety tip would be to not smoke cigarettes in public. 90% of my interactions with undesirable individuals start with them walking up and asking for a cigarette. I only smoke in private places now. Kinda sad, I just moved here from a small town and everything people say about this place has turned out to be true. It doesn’t smell good and it isn’t very safe. :( I’ve been thinking that I would rather make less money and live in a smaller/safer community than risk my butt here for some extra $.

  • debra January 22, 2015 (3:06 pm)

    What makes Safeway such a magnet…its location to the highschool and the park and the amount of “hang out” space they have, lots od seating inside and outside on the corner.
    2:50 pretty much at the end of the school day…I would recommend that SPD saturate the area at lunch and dirctly after school, cops on foot, walk with K-9, in their cars rooming the neighborhoods..
    The Met does not have this issue in part is they have a zero tolerance and senior managers will follow folks around who clearly are looking to rip them off

    • WSB January 22, 2015 (3:13 pm)

      I mentioned earlier that we have a followup including a message from the precinct about what’s being done. It’s been up for a couple hours now: https://westseattleblog.com/?p=298921

  • garden_nymph January 22, 2015 (3:32 pm)

    @debra I agree, it WOULD be lovely to live in a city that employees enough police officers to “saturate” problem areas. Sadly, in Seattle, the City Council has not budgeted for the police that the DOJ agreement states Seattle hire. Complain to City Hall and the Mayor, the police are working as hard as they can with the limited resources they have. They must triage the calls they get, just like an ER.

  • Seattlite January 22, 2015 (3:37 pm)

    The Admiral Safeway’s management does a terrible job of controlling the after school WSHS kids. There are sketchy looking older kids that sit in the interior southwest area of the Admiral Safeway too. I’ve complained about this but have not seen any improvement. Who do we contact to complain about this?

  • Wes C. Addle January 22, 2015 (4:06 pm)

    The Admiral Safeway issue is nearly the same as QFC in the junction experienced a few years ago. Not sure if the unsavory types still hang out in front of that store still. It’s been quiet on the blog at least.
    It really is up to Safeway management to control their property. We can’t afford to have cops everywhere all at once. Maybe Safeway or the business in that shopping center should have some sort of security.
    I mean if I was running the Element apartments I wouldn’t be happy with all of the bad press. No one would want to live in an overpriced closet if it wasn’t safe.

  • Brenda January 22, 2015 (4:16 pm)

    Of course this kid was harassed. All the young types sit outside Safeway yelling swearing screaming smoking being obnoxious , it invites Apple Picking for sure.

    We were always in after school sports or various other after school programs. Never just hanging out.

  • Up the junction January 22, 2015 (4:17 pm)

    The QFC in the junction is another problem area. There are junkies and bums – probably the suspects the police are looking for – hanging out around there and lurking in the stairwells of that building and the parking garage as well as over at Jefferson Square. They keep coming because they know the police won’t come and won’t do anything.

    One night I saw gang members using some kids to sell drugs at the public area outside the QFC. The benefit was at least the drug dealers chased off the homeless bum there so their runner kid could sit in peace. Police were called. No response.

    I even had a junkie stumble up to me and start talking at me telling me how he loves west Seattle because the cops don’t do anything here unlike downtown.

    It’s ridiculous. The blight in West Seattle is completely out of control right now and there is nothing being done about it other than lip service to keep calling the cops who maybe will get out there 40 minutes later after the damage is done.

  • Eric January 22, 2015 (4:29 pm)

    Man some of these descriptions are vague. What color bandana were these one robbers wearing? Same with some of the other descriptions of clothing.

    And Steve recognized 3 of the robbers and has pictures of them from shoplifting?!!! Are they ion custody yet? I mean come on, how much more do the cops need?

  • debra January 22, 2015 (4:36 pm)

    I do agree that the police are under resourced and the city council and mayor at the end are accountable.
    I have reached out several times this week to the mayors office to speak with a staffer…guess what their response is same as dispatch …zero
    Think it is time to saturate the mayors office with our concerns and need for change or he will be a one term guy…lets include city council members as well…this is not ok..and when someone is killed maybe that is when it will get their attention

  • ChefJoe January 22, 2015 (4:51 pm)

    “horrible job of controlling the after school WSHS kids”

    Well, yes, because those are minors and they have rights. You can’t legally run young people out of a public store any more than you could do that with a minority group.

  • Alphonse January 22, 2015 (5:22 pm)

    Yes, these robberies are disturbing and I can understand that people are worried. But to claim that “blight in West Seattle is completely out of control” is so naïve and alarmist that it’s laughable.

  • drahcir61 January 22, 2015 (5:29 pm)

    @ChefJoe – actually Safeway can legally remove anyone from their store, including minors, who are loitering in aisles (as they do) or causing other disturbances.

    Safeway is a business not a public park. If you haven’t been to the Admiral Safeway when the kids invade the store then you should try it, & bring your patience.

    My guess is Safeway does not want to risk annoying parents when their kids come home complaining of being kicked out of the store (even though many of them they deserve it).

  • howdy January 22, 2015 (5:45 pm)

    I’m not a fan of the mayor or the city council but to be fair, I’m pretty sure West Seattle isn’t only place with these types of issues.

  • Actually January 22, 2015 (5:46 pm)

    Vote with your $ and don’t shop there if things don’t improve. The atmosphere in Safeway does seem a little better than say 5 or 10 years ago. I’d commonly see drug deals in the paking lot and high schoolers opening bags of candy in the store, grazing as they walked from aisle to aisle. I’m the last person who wants to see minors or adults treated unfairly but if they are breaking the law, kick ’em the hell out/call the police.

  • CandrewB1 January 22, 2015 (5:50 pm)

    “You can’t legally run young people out of a public store any more than you could do that with a minority group.”

    Pffft! Wish I knew that when I was 14.

  • Youknow January 22, 2015 (6:14 pm)

    Police have limited resources? Time to arm your self and we do the work are self!

  • Eric January 22, 2015 (6:47 pm)

    There’s nothing laughable about strong armed robberies with a gun

  • Haven January 22, 2015 (7:04 pm)

    Safeway has always been loitered by wshs kids. Stores across the street from high schools usually are. Stop being nimbys. Teenagers exist. Deal with it. I agree they aren’t always pleasant to be around, but the majority of them are not criminals.

  • Me January 22, 2015 (7:06 pm)

    I just walked to the store and saw two bicycle officers patrolling North Admiral. Was a pleasant sight to see. I just wish they had the resources to make it a regular thing, here and elsewhere across the city.

    • WSB January 22, 2015 (7:34 pm)

      Me, it IS a regular thing. They can’t be everywhere at all times but it’s a new initiative by Capt. Wilske, who had two officers on bicycles for starters, and had others all but lining up. They cannot patrol exclusively on bicycles because that doesn’t work if and when they have to divert to a fast 911 response but they’ve been doing it in Roxhill Park, Lincoln Park, and elsewhere. We see them all the time without even looking for them. (I was looking up photos but in addition to the meeting I’m covering right now, we’re also checking out possible breaking news, so I have to quit that search and hope to come back to it later) – TR

  • dsa January 22, 2015 (8:07 pm)

    I saw a couple in the new Second Avenue bicycle lane downtown around 4 pm today. Nobody else was using it, so they stood out nicely. I liked seeing them there.

  • Mike January 22, 2015 (9:58 pm)

    “Stop being nimbys. Teenagers exist. Deal with it.”
    Deal with it… like getting in their faces and telling them to leave? Calling the cops? Maybe if they push me I push back harder? It won’t end well for the kids or their parents. I’m more than willing to sue their parents if need be. I’m sure their parents will take notice when I clean their bank account out.

  • ChefJoe January 22, 2015 (10:12 pm)

    drahcir61, I do the majority of my grocery shopping in the admiral safeway and know what the store is like when I’ve been in there when the HS lets out. Yes, aisles become crowded with teenagers who are busy talking with friends and running through the store like it’s a game of tag with their friends.

    The store can have a policy about being able to remove anyone but actually enforcing it, as someone who would probably be an adult, against a minor is treading into dangerous territory for anyone. If even an allegation of punches being thrown were made it’s a very different system that’s stacked against the adult. Best leave it to the police.

  • bestbets January 22, 2015 (11:17 pm)

    Junkies and bums, young obnoxious types, sketchy looking older kid, gang members… wth, how are we letting these undesirables exist in West Seattle where they don’t belong? Can’t they just live and exist someplace else? smh

  • Debra January 23, 2015 (12:52 am)

    Mike there is a limit to what parents legally are accountable for and your ability to sue parents
    I tried last summer when a teenager with no license stole a car, drunk hit and destroyed my car
    Turns out parents are rarely held financially responsible and I couldn’t even sue in small claims
    System is backwards and protects punks and actually fails kids since it shows that there is no accountability

  • dsa January 23, 2015 (12:57 am)

    Who is we bestbets? And do you have some programs, activities, suggestions to offer that would act as magnets to attract these people to “someplace else”
    All I’m saying is I don’t like it any better than you, but people have to have something to do and have purpose to fill their time.

  • WestofJunction January 23, 2015 (5:50 am)

    It is up to the businesses/property managers to ensure that their premises are safe and pleasant. Same with Westwood Vilage. University Village is very close to the U District, but the management makes sure that there is no funny business allowed to go on. Maybe they should consult with U Village management on how to run things.

  • Rover January 23, 2015 (5:57 am)

    There are programs available, but not in Admiral.
    Safe futures youth center at 35th and Morgan is a place for youth at risk of gang involvement. High point Community center also offers programs.

  • anonyme January 23, 2015 (6:05 am)

    I’ve never seen bicycle cops in Roxhill, and I’m there every day. I still think the mounted police would be perfect for parks, and would expand their role to include actual police work.

  • bestbets January 23, 2015 (6:37 am)

    Sorry, I was not clear that I was being sarcastic. One thing I love about West Seattle and Seattle in general is its diversity, which actually is diminishing as Seattle becomes more expensive and exclusive. Without going into the detailed demographics of my family, sometimes reading the comments, especially about crime, some WS-ites would believe that we don’t belong and are even seen as potential criminals, even though we contribute greatly to the community. It makes me sad to see my neighbors stereotype and look down on others who are doing nothing more than trying to get by like everyone else. Yes, let’s stick together as a community to fight crime, but be careful not to judge those who don’t fit whatever image as not deserving to be here, and view and treat them as our neighbors, whatever their station in life.

  • CanDo January 23, 2015 (7:01 am)

    Hey… the City doesn’t have the time or resources to deal with all those annoying criminal or safety issues. There’s much more at stake around what resources are available for power lines to be buried and/or lanes of traffic to be consolidated in order to enhance planned beautification projects. Hopefully those lovely beautification projects won’t provide more places to hide criminals waiting to prey on the innocent public, while policing resources in the city remain scant.

  • DH January 23, 2015 (7:45 am)

    @Bestbets. Thanks for clarifying. I agree w your last statement. I think all this stereotyping is dangerous.

  • Eric January 23, 2015 (9:42 am)

    Hey Bestbet, who is the “we” you’re speaking about that some commentators say don’t belong? Cause your first statement said bums, junkies, gang members etc. I agree, they don’t belong

  • Wes C. Addle January 23, 2015 (11:21 am)

    Another thing I’ve noticed in the last decade or so is that families and teens are struggling economically. I’m nearly 40 yrs old now and I can still remember my teen years vividly.
    After school sports were free for me and only one parent in the house had to work. We were middle class still and lived comfortably.
    Fast forward to today and a majority of households have both parents working (if they’re still together) Sports and other after school activities cost Hundreds of dollars per activity. Also IMO kids are getting a much crappier education now than in years past. Now we have kids with plenty of unsupervised alone time and they know they will most likely not get in trouble for doing bad things. Teens push the limits, I know I did. You also have to consider kids and families that aren’t from this country are having problems assimilating to our culture. Normal American kids are probably rude to them, they struggle with the language and they drop out of school to help out the family by any means necessary.

  • Mike January 24, 2015 (8:18 am)

    bestbets, Seattle (and King County) is the most diversified it’s been in it’s history. Do people stereotype, you bet, every race has people that do that. As a mix raced family, I can tell you I’ve heard it first hand from family members on all sides.
    Wes C. Addle, there is some truth to what you stated, however, I can’t agree with it 100%. We have more resources now for families immigrating here than ever before. If you immigrated here in 1977, you’d have little to no help from local governments. Now, you have many. Is there room for additional programs that would do better, yes.
    “Some teens” push limits. I would have had my rear end decimated if I stepped out of line as a teen. What did I do that also helped keep me in line? I worked after school and on weekends. With the proposed $15/hr minimum wage, I’d hope more kids want to get a job rather than be idiots.

Sorry, comment time is over.