CRIME WATCH: Stolen car found, full of somebody else’s stuff, + 3 reader reports

We start tonight’s Crime Watch with a followup to a recently reported vehicle theft. The vehicle’s been found – and its owner finds himself with items he would like to return to THEIR owners:

That’s one of the photos Dan Austin (proprietor of WSB sponsor Peel & Press in Morgan Junction) sent tonight with this followup to his vehicle theft reported here last Friday:

My car was recovered in Des Moines this afternoon. It has body damage, possible engine damage and multiple items were smoked in there (I can tell from the implements left in there). They had two suspects in the vehicle but will not charge them because they claimed they borrowed the vehicle from a friend and didn’t know it was stolen. One had a warrant so they got arrested the other totally walked. Here is the weird thing, I have stolen mail and property in the car but the police wouldn’t take it. They said it was mine to deal with. I find this insane!!!

I have a stolen bike and several pairs of glasses, electronics, stolen mail from all over and gym bags. What am I going to do with these??? I refuse to toss them because, as someone who just had my car stolen, I want to help people get their things back! I have a few photos of the bags and the bike tossed in the car. … The bike was spray painted to hide its identity (spray paint was in the car as well).

Recognize anything? Comment here and/or contact us. Could have been stolen anywhere, as thieves don’t necessarily stick within jurisdictions. By the way, he says it was Kent Police who found his car and told him the stuff was his to deal with (not Des Moines PD which is served by the King County Sheriff’s Office).

Meantime, three other reader reports:

5TH CAR PROWL IN 3 MONTHS: From Laura in Seaview: “Just wanted to report that my locked minivan was prowled for the fifth time since August. We live at 46th and Juneau. This last time, both side sliding doors were left open. They took nothing, as there is nothing valuable in there, but it’s sure a violating and frustrating experience.”

AND ANOTHER CAR PROWL:Sarah in Fairmount Springs says prowler(s) hit her neighbor’s car, apparently accidentally left unlocked:

My neighbor’s car was broken into … issing along with her new Seahawks jersey. She called her husband and he mentioned seeing a dark car in the alley when he was leaving (Wednesday) morning. The car was parked alongside the fence in the alley; he stopped to get a closer look and the car peeled out and sped away. I left shortly after at 6:15 am and didn’t see anything. We live (in the 6000 block of) Fauntleroy Way SW; our entry to our apartment is in the alley. Our parking is also in the alley. I’m not sure if there were other reports of theft in the area but wanted other readers to be on the lookout and remember to lock your cars and take valuables out.

HIT-AND-RUN: From Jill: “My car was completely sideswiped while parked at Cloverdale and Delridge Way SW. Based on the paint left behind, it was a yellow vehicle with no witnesses. If a message could go out to look for a yellow vehicle with extensive side damage and likely blue paint scratches on the car, that would be greatly appreciated.”

49 Replies to "CRIME WATCH: Stolen car found, full of somebody else's stuff, + 3 reader reports"

  • JeffK November 3, 2016 (10:33 pm)

    borrowed the vehicle from a friend and didn’t know it was stolen. “

    I’d say produce the friend now (as a lead and hold them until they get to the top of the chain) or you’re going to jail.  Do the police really fall for this stuff?

    And regarding the stuff:  “To Protect and…uh, you take care of the rest”

  • pmc November 3, 2016 (10:43 pm)

    Will the post office take the mail?

  • Tom S November 3, 2016 (11:03 pm)

    Can the Seattle Police  help?  The vehicle was stolen from their jurisdiction, and the owner is a Seattle resident.  If they haven’t been consulted, one would think they at least could offer advice.

  • dsa November 3, 2016 (11:44 pm)

    He got his car back, but an awful lot of unhappy people here and any resolution has been left  to the victim.

  • Mike November 3, 2016 (11:54 pm)

    Contact the FBI, mail theft is a federal offense.  Also give the FBI the names and badge numbers of the Des Moines officers you dealt with.  Maybe they’ll like talking to the feds when their jobs are at risk.

    • WSB November 4, 2016 (12:12 am)

      As noted in the story – I asked Dan – it was Kent police for some reason, not Des Moines. Perhaps the car was found while they were investigating something in DM; Also, the FBI does not investigate mail theft (see their “what we investigate” page) but the US Postal Inspection Service does.

    • lookingforlogic November 4, 2016 (11:10 am)

      And if you keep the stolen items?  Give me a break it is their job to deal with stolen property.  Great idea to contact the FBI or Postmaster General, I’ll bet the locals step up then.

  • El Jefe' November 4, 2016 (5:22 am)

    They don’t want to deal with it because everything from the bike to a tissue has to be documented as evidence.  I get it.  Don’t like it, but they don’t have time to do this because there aren’t enough officers as it is.  Learned about this when I found a stolen purse.  Take the mail to the post office.

  • Bonnie November 4, 2016 (7:02 am)

    So I can steal a car and just claim I borrowed it from a friend and get away with it?  Sweet!  (insert sarcasm)

    • Addy November 4, 2016 (9:49 am)

      Depends on what kind of car you steal. If it’s a nice one, they will investigate further. Gotta protect and serve the Tesla owners. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

  • Jayjay November 4, 2016 (7:30 am)

    But haven’t they just facilitated him being in possession of stolen property?  I understand that no one wants to log evidence, but give me a break.  What happens if there’s controlled substances in this bags? Also, if you are driving a stolen vehicle…I’m assuming there was no key in the ignition…you generally could guess its stolen and that should be enough to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • Paul Binder November 4, 2016 (8:00 am)

    And not to mention that he commented about the smoking of items, I would think that would have been taken as evidence?  This all sounds very strange to me.  I would be in contact with the Mayors office of Kent, and then perhaps get Jesse???

  • newnative November 4, 2016 (8:10 am)

    There’s a lot wrong with this recovery.  I wonder how many times this happens where the victim does NOT report the results to their neighborhood news source?  ie, when items are recovered but never returned to their rightful owners?  

    And the story they were borrowing a newly acquired car from a friend, wow.  

  • AMD November 4, 2016 (8:12 am)

    The post office should re-deliver the mail if you drop it off there.  

  • Peel & Press November 4, 2016 (8:40 am)

    Yup, This is frustrating all around.  I called the Monroe Police and Snohomish County Sheriff because I have a ton of stolen personal info and briefcase from an individual there.  They said they can’t send anyone to get it but I could drive it out there.  I am swinging over to the SW precinct after dropping off my kids to see if they will take control of the items but was told they may not.  No matter what, the chain of custody is non-existent so these guys will never be held accountable for their crimes.  

    I had two separate (very frustrated) cops tell me that if a occupant of a stolen vehicle claims it was borrowed from a friend and they didn’t know it was stolen that the KC Prosecutor will not charge because it’s too hard to prove.  These punks are good.  They know what to say to get out of arrest, they ditched the plate and put ‘Car Pros” plates on and a fake temp tag in the back window to make the car look like it was just bought.  The cop told me they don’t normally run temp tags to match with the car so it give the thief and extra week of rolling around in it until they get caught.  Once they do they play dumb about borrowing from a friend and walk, then go steal another car and do it all over again.  If you ever wonder why there is an insane number of cars being stolen, maybe we should look at the prosecutors office.  I will let you all know what the SW Precinct says and hope to get these items back to rightful owners. 

    • JeffK November 4, 2016 (10:38 am)

      Maybe collectively we can get the prosecutor’s office to do their job and make some examples out of these creeps.  Otherwise we will all be paying indefinitely via deductibles and higher insurance rates.

      I had a Civic stolen twice in Seattle and recovered (the second time it was stripped) and as anyone who has had a car stolen knows the officer just wants to give you a report number to give to insurance.  The first time my car was stolen it came back filled with some hack shop’s garbage – including two motors in the back.  Did the police want to run the VINs on those engines?  Heck no, here’s your report number – talk to your insurance.

      And then there were the 3 other times the Civic was broken in to by having a screwdriver jammed in the lock and bent up in order to steal a $50 radio and some change in the ash tray.  I dutifully paid the $500 deductible each time.

  • cindy lou who November 4, 2016 (8:44 am)

     City of Des Moines has its own PD, unrelated to KCSO.  If location is outside the city in unincorporated King County, then KCSO would have jurisdiction. 

    • WSB November 4, 2016 (9:12 am)

      Sorry, I mistakenly thought DM was one of the KCSO contract cities (they have a dozen including Burien and SeaTac). Correcting.

  • Gene November 4, 2016 (8:56 am)

    Just wondering who the ” they” in the story is referring to. Was it just one Officer- or a Detective- or both? Had the car been found & put in impound? I would definitely contact Kent Police again- 

  • Deo November 4, 2016 (8:57 am)

    Good suggestions to have the post office handle the mail and also to contact FBI since it is a felony to steal mail. In addition , contacting television media could provide broad public exposure of this woeful response by the police and goose some policy changes or increase accountability. 

  • Sandy Adams November 4, 2016 (9:50 am)

    Dan:  I sent a note to Mark Solomon at SW SPD with copy of the article.  I have been very impressed with Capt Davis and the other officers I have met through the West Seattle Block Watch Captain’s Network.  When you visit the precinct, you might ask for him.  He is the Crime Prevention Officer and has a ton of experience and knowledge…

    So sorry to hear about your ordeal.  

  • Kathrine November 4, 2016 (10:12 am)

    “several pairs of glasses”

    I had my car rifled through a few months ago and the only thing I could figure out that they stole were two pairs of prescription sunglasses. Did you find any tortoise-shell colored plastic prescription sunglasses and a pair of black “RayBan style” prescription sunglasses? They are basically worthless but it would be interesting to know if they showed up with all that stuff!

  • 64Ford November 4, 2016 (10:27 am)

    concerning stolen mail – contact the postal inspectors

  • AJP November 4, 2016 (10:41 am)

    This is incredibly frustrating! You might want to take the bike to local bike shop and they can find the serial number and look it up, there are a few bike registries that people use for that. 

  • old timer November 4, 2016 (10:51 am)

    This noble man, trying to run a business, and at the same time, trying to do the honorable thing toward strangers.  All the tracing and checking suggested would be a full time job for a real detective.

    I hope that if  Mr.Austin would like some help, he would post a request.

  • Jennifer November 4, 2016 (11:27 am)

    My car was broken into on Tuesday in West Seattle. I filled a police report. Lost a bunch of stuff, some has my name on it. Would love to know if any of it may have been in the car! 

  • JonnyQuest November 4, 2016 (12:41 pm)

    “They had two suspects in the vehicle but will not charge them because they claimed they borrowed the vehicle from a friend”  


    One would assume if the vehicle was borrowed from a friend, they would have the key.  Did they have the key?     

  • Peel & Press November 4, 2016 (1:26 pm)

    A few answers,

    Yes they had a key.  All my keys are accounted for.  In going through my vehicle I have found a bag with 5 keys in it for various vehicles.  I found an envelope with addresses and makes and models of cars.  Several addresses for the arbor heights area.  Looks like they were making a list.  I have Jail Release documents from someone who just got out of jail for passing bad checks and I believe was one of the people in the car at the time it was found.  

    I spoke with Officer Huston at the SW precinct.  He is a good man and I have talked with him 3 times so far since my car had been stolen.  Though it should have been handle by the recovering police department, SPD is sending someone out to collect.  I have been waiting around for close to 4 hours on what should be a very busy day for me but at least I will know I have done the right thing with the items.  I have called two people that I was able to locate and told them there items will be with SPD.  I have now recovered 5 pipes, 3 registrations, 1 title, 1 will, 1 death cert, and a trove of tax returns and assorted mail.  I will contact the US Postal, most of the mail is opened or completely removed from original envelope.  I gave KC Prosecutors office the heads up that one of there upcoming cases has a defendant that was likely out committing more theft but they had zero interest in talking to me.  They said if it was relevant the police would turn over the documents.  

    I am waiting back for a report from the other agency so I can follow up with their department about not taking possession of the stolen property and release of suspects.  As of now, no detective has been assigned to my case that happened last Friday.  I get they don’t assign for every auto theft but they have the names of two people found in the car.  You would think someone would follow up!!!  I am not knocking the job of the SPD but I will say I believe they are short staffed and have to prioritize their calls, I get that.  We need more police in this area. Look at the crime map from 10/20 through today.  Count the amount of car thefts and prowling, it will blow your mind!

    • sam-c November 4, 2016 (3:23 pm)

      Damn…. I wish you get “get Jesse,” and have him get these police departments to do their jobs…..

  • peoplearegood November 4, 2016 (1:43 pm)

    why so suspicious jonnyquest?

    they said they borrowed the car from their friend- isnt that enough? they said they dont know the friends name or where he lives, but he always starts his car with a screwdriver, stores an assortment of mail, many gym bags, and dismantled bicycles inside the car, and loans it to strangers- and i believe them.

    let the police do their job. they cant just go around arresting anyone who is driving a stolen car full of stolen property when the occupants plainly explain they borrowed the car? i imagine the drivers are going to be in hot water with their friend for giving his stolen car, stolen property, and stolen mail to the police- who must then let the drivers go, and dump this mess on the previous owner. it is certainly not fair to friend (and the effort he expended to collect these items), nor to the drivers left short of their destination.

    so, i think you need to drop the pitchfork, jonnyquest!?

  • bob November 4, 2016 (2:43 pm)

    so anyone can steal a car, say they borrowed it and I guess it’s ok?

    this makes no sense

  • newnative November 4, 2016 (2:45 pm)

    Looks like organized crime to me, not just morons going for a joyride in a borrowed car.  I am glad SPD has assisted in the recovery as Kent PD could seem to care less.  

    • WSB November 4, 2016 (2:50 pm)

      We just went over to talk with Dan and see all the stuff firsthand. It’s really mindboggling; followup to come. SPD is there and still talking with Kent PD about who does what. It’s not just the stuff; the car is damaged, and reeks. My nose does not work too well so I cannot imagine what that smells like to a person with a normal sense of smell. -TR

  • Putz November 4, 2016 (3:38 pm)

    Reeks of what?

    if pot- that’s legal, and not of consequence- right?

  • Peel & Press November 4, 2016 (3:43 pm)

    SPD pulled the patrolman and did not take the items into custody!  I was asked to “securely store” the items until KPD figured out what their move is.  After speaking with Kent I am looking at possible being in charge of stranger’s stolen sensitive documents and property until Tuesday.  My main skill set in life is making pizza and running a small restaurant.  When did I get promoted from serving pizza to Serve and Protect?  My already stolen Yukon is not a secure location and if anyone thinks I am bringing that newport, weed, cigar, meth/crack smell into my house your nuts!!!  This is so messed up!!!! Why is doing the right thing so darn hard???

  • Peel & Press November 4, 2016 (3:49 pm)

    Weed is not legal to smoke in your car.  It sure is heck isn’t legal to smoke it in my stolen car :-)  My car was subject to 5 days of heavy Newport cigs, Marb Menthols, cigars, weed, and several torches where found if you know what those are for.   

  • Space Dust November 4, 2016 (3:58 pm)

    Peel and Press——I agree with Paul Binder and Sam C you need to get Jesse you shouldn’t have to keep those stolen items and as you said… bringing that newport, weed, cigar, meth/crack smell into my house.

    That stuff is toxic and if you have children… OMG!

  • Sally Maddox November 4, 2016 (4:41 pm)

    Both my cars have been prowled multiple times.  The theives taking glasses, gymbag, change basically cleaned out my car.  I live at 29th and Webster and there has been a rash of this in my neighborhood.  We too have seen strange cars in the wee hours in the alley.  

  • bob November 4, 2016 (6:50 pm)

    get jesse I’d love to see what kent pd had to say to that

  • Mark November 5, 2016 (9:26 pm)

    Why are victims made to be victims twice over?  Where is justice?  Criminals need to be held accountable.  Catch and release is futile.  Catch, jail and make the criminal work to pay restitution would be better

  • Putz November 5, 2016 (10:28 pm)

    Of course auto theft and prowling is skyrocketing- why wouldn’t it be?! These guys appear to be major criminals, with stolen mail, ID’s, addresses for future theft, stolen property from MANY DIFFERENT VICTIMS- caught driving a stolen car- and they are not withheld ?!?!

  • Person November 5, 2016 (10:46 pm)

    Someone is know from out of town had his car broken into. SPD told him not to bother filing a report as it is as common as running a red light!?! then soon after got a ticket for no proof of (stolen) insurance. Disturbing on many levels. Seattle is not looking good at times :(

  • Putz November 6, 2016 (3:04 am)

    It seems like these thieves would go and steal this car again..?! It’s full of all that great booty, and if they get caught, there is no consequence! 

    We in Seattle are all just sitting ducks- waiting for career criminals to burglarize our homes and steal our cars with impunity! 

    Its a great time to be a opportunistic crack-head!

    • WSB November 6, 2016 (7:04 am)

      When last we heard from Dan, Kent Police were finally supposed to be on the way to pick up the items. So unless something went awry there, it’s no longer “full of all that great booty.” We’re hoping to talk to them tomorrow to find out why it played out this way.

  • Heather November 6, 2016 (7:46 am)

    Who can I speak with to find out if some of my mail was in that car? My mail was stolen two weeks ago and the thief got a hold of a check addressed to me, forged my signature, doctored the amount of the check and walked away with $650. Seattle PD says it’s the bank’s problem, the bank says it’s Seattle PD’s problem- the cycle of frustration never ends! FYI, I live just north of the Morgan Junction.

    • moji November 6, 2016 (7:17 pm)

      Heather, I was a victim of check-washing 4 years ago. SPD absolutely was involved, as well as my bank and the post office. I got my money back from the bank, and the creep was eventually arrested for mail theft and is serving federal time. Because mail theft is a pretty big deal. Call SPD again, and get in touch with your post office. 

  • Peel & Press November 6, 2016 (1:36 pm)


    Your name doesn’t ring a bell and most of the mail had been stolen very recently.  Kent PD is now in control of all materials because the vehicle was recovered in their jurisdiction.  I am sorry that happened to you.  Ironically I had a jail release packet for an individual who was out on bail for passing “Forged Checks”  Contact me at and I can share what I know.  I don’t want to put names out online at this point.

  • faceless November 8, 2016 (8:43 pm)

    Interesting that neighbor after neighbor is saying they got broken into. what are the police doing…absolutely nothing. Get a gun

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