11:26 AM: We’re at Bellevue Police HQ as BPD and Seattle Police go public with more details about the “high-end burglary ring” linked to the two Alki arrests we covered back on Monday.
They’re talking behind a table covered with what they say is seized loot – cash, jewelry, purses, more. They say the victims include Seattle Mariners star Felix Hernandez. (Added – What was taken from him included a keepsake watch:)
They say the burglaries happened starting in April 2016. “The thieves would use luxury automobiles to commit their crimes in an attempt to blend in with the neighborhood traffic …” Here’s a map of some of the incidents:
The arrests in the 3200 block of 62nd SW followed a nine-month investigation involving Bellevue, Seattle, Kirkland, Medina, and Clyde Hill Police, according to the information we’ve received so far, even before the briefing (which we’re recording on video) begins.
Police say the three suspects are expected to “be charged today with numerous counts of burglary” and are identifying them as 23-year-old Alonzo Severson, 26-year-old Joseph Sims, and 29-year-old Shon Shanell.
11:33 AM: The briefing has begun, with Bellevue Police‘s chief saying the two people arrested in West Seattle were the “two remaining members of the Rock Smash Burglary Crew.” He says the items stolen by the ring totaled at least $3 million in value, taken in the course of “at least 123 residential burglaries.”
They worked in daylight and “often defeated (alarm systems).” The chief says they won’t elaborate on how they tracked down the suspects, but that police spent “hundreds of hours” doing that. He says they have recovered at least $400,000 in stolen items, and that the suspects seem to have motivated just by “greed,” and lived it up on the spoils of what was stolen.
Deputy Chief Carmen Best from Seattle PD says “these are significant arrests” and that they don’t believe any other suspects are on the loose.
The police leaders here say that breaking the case started with discovery of a phone in a Mercer Island yard – the citizen who found it turned it in to police, who made note of a call that came to the phone, and it rolled on from there, exemplifying the “if you see something, say something” philosophy.
11:44 AM: We asked the first question, about how the suspects arrested in West Seattle were linked to the house in Alki where they were found. Police wouldn’t elaborate on that but they said these suspects “were very good at what they did” and that investigators were often just a step or two behind – the suspects apparently even did “counter-surveillance.” But one of the suspects arrested at the Alki house, they say, Shon Shanell, allegedly was wearing a wristwatch among the items stolen from Mariners player Hernandez.
In some of the burglaries, police believe the burglars were armed, and they say that in some incidents, residents were home when the burglaries happened.
Other details as the Q/A section goes – some of the handbags being shown here among recovered loot are worth tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars.
They’re looking at safe-deposit boxes and storage facilities to see if they can recover even more of what was stolen.
Another local note – we don’t know yet if any of the burglaries happened in West Seattle (that section of the map, above, is covered by its legend), or if the arrest location is the only link.
The suspect that was arrested elsewhere was taken into custody after leaving jail about a week ago following a hold in connection with a Department of Corrections warrant, per the Bellevue chief.
11:59 AM: The Q/A has wrapped up and police are taking us and the other media crews to see the vehicles they have seized in relation to this – “five luxury cars” are mentioned in the news release. We’re also checking on the suspects’ status – Shanel is being held without bail; Severson is being held on half a million dollars bail and is listed as having been charged already; Sims is being held without bail.
12:23 PM: Here are the vehicles. BPD tells us the Audi is the one they seized at the arrest location on Alki.
12:39 PM: Reading the charges already filed against Severson, the evidence includes a monitoring bracelet he had to wear from another case, allegedly placing him inside some of the burglarized homes. The jail register shows he has been in since January 12th, meaning that the two arrested in Alki are Shanell and Sims.
ADDED 9:36 PM: We’ve added more photos inline above, and right above this line is our video of the entire briefing.