VIDEO: Arson investigation, holiday-season crime prevention, and more @ West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network

October 27, 2015 9:45 pm
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 |   Crime | Safety | West Seattle news

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

No arrest yet in the West Seattle arsons.

That’s what Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis told the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network tonight, almost one full week since the last fire in the string of half a dozen arsons that have been under investigation for more than two weeks. Here’s video of his update:

That most-recent fire was early last Wednesday, set in a recycling bin outside a house at 40th SW and SW Morgan, half a mile from the October 12th firesetting shown on surveillance video made public last Thursday:

Capt. Davis told the more than 30 attendees that the investigation remains open and active, with multiple agencies working on it. Call 911 or 800-55-ARSON if you have information.

He was asked about last Saturday’s double shooting, in which a 24-year-old man was killed and a 34-year-old man seriously wounded, with a 25-year-old suspect arrested hours later. Capt. Davis had no additional information on that beyond pointing out that – as we reported after the suspect’s bail hearing – the victims and suspect were known to each other.

Also brought up by attendees:

Davis was asked about a recent case of auto theft in which officers didn’t respond until hours had passed and multiple calls were made, the victim said. They wanted to know why that happened, saying they had looked at a list of other incidents around the city at the same time and could not find anything major that would have kept police from responding sooner. They also said they needed an incident number at the time so that the car’s LoJack could be activated.

Capt. Davis asked for the incident number so he could investigate. The victim said the car was found and that the officer with whom they eventually dealt “was fantastic,” but that didn’t make up for the frustration over what it took to get that response. They also said they had called the non-emergency number, and the captain said that might have been a factor – as police have often said at community meetings, call 911, since the same call-takers handle that line, and they can re-route you if necessary.

The next attendee to ask a question spoke about the chronic dumping problem near the Sanislo Elementary schoolyard, which was brought up during Mayor Murray‘s Find It/Fix It visit earlier this month.

“It’s a huge safety issue in the area,” explained the attendee, saying that concerned community members are hoping to put up a surveillance camera, so, he asked, “If you had video of a vehicle dumping trash and drugs in the area, could you do anything about it?” Capt. Davis said yes, provided they have the license plate and are able to identify who was driving the car.

He also spoke briefly about SPD’s new Crime Data Dashboard, which breaks out crime data by neighborhood (he had also explained it at the Morgan Community Association meeting last week, as featured in our coverage).

CRIME PREVENTION: Next to speak was SPD’s Southwest and South Precincts Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon.

He first talked about arson deterrence, with the same flyer that was circulated last week:

Solomon then moved on to a short tutorial on how to talk with 911, when you are reporting a crime or other emergency: “Let the call-taker control the conversation, let them ask the questions, answer to the best of your ability, you’ll feel a lot less like a suspect.”

Car prowls is one of the biggest problems in our area, “and it’s also very prevalent during the holiday season,” because purchases are left in the car, and criminals know that. “I look at people committing car break-ins as like shopping – somebody somewhere is going to leave it open and available.”

Solomon urged people to report car prowls, even if nothing is taken, so that the full picture of the problem can be known. The online tool isn’t always easy to work with, said one attendee, and he said that’s important feedback. WSBWCN’s Deb Greer reminded people also to let their Block Watch captain know so they can share the information.

If you’re out shopping, Solomon continued, don’t carry a lot of packages. And don’t just walk around flaunting your electronics. Solomon borrowed an attendee’s phone, held it up and said “What am I holding?” Answer: “200 dollars. … If you wouldn’t walk down the street with two 100-dollar bills in your hand, don’t (walk around with the phone).” Also: Maintain control over what you do carry, like a purse or other bag – hold it close, don’t just let it swing free in a way that might tempt a criminal to try to grab it.

How far can you go to protect yourself? asked one attendee.

Do what you feel you need to do – but in this case, “it’s just stuff – they want stuff – they don’t want you. You can replace stuff. You can’t replace you,” Solomon said.

He’ll be circulating the official annual newsletter with holiday-safety tips later this week – in the meantime, you can see a previous year’s edition here. And for Solomon’s most-recent newsletter, with package-theft-prevention tips – go here.

One more note:

COMMUNITY SAFETY SURVEY: Have you taken it yet? If not – go here to find the link, and the backstory.

This was the last meeting of the year for the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network, since the regular end-of-month meeting dates will be during the holidays – until the next one in January, keep watch on the WSBWCN website for updates.

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