CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: How ‘open letter’ dad got daughter’s bicycle back – and why the suspect wasn’t jailed

Over the weekend, we published an update from Byron, the dad who wrote an “open letter” after his 8-year-old daughter’s bicycle was stolen – he reported a suspect had been arrested and the bicycle returned. Wanting to track the case through the system to see what happens along the way, we requested and obtained the police-report narrative today, and it tells a complicated story.

For those wondering how Byron found the bicycle, the report says he spotted it on Craigslist, made initial contact with the person who listed it, and went to the Southwest Precinct, where the Saturday day shift was in the morning briefing. Officers came up with a plan. (This isn’t the first time SPD has done this – we’ve seen past reports, like this one in West Seattle last year, and this one elsewhere the year before.) The report described it in part as:

Our approach was to set a predetermined meeting location and when the bicycle was determined to be Lhe one in question and a specific suspecL was found to be in possession of this bicycle we would move in, affecting a stop, at which time we would verify the serial number and combination to the lock on the bicycle as given to us by (the dad). The combination on the bícycle lock was given as (xxxx) and the serial number was given as (xxxx).

They originally agreed on a meeting place near Roxbury Safeway but they eventually found the suspect near 15th and Roxbury, with the bicycle, and took him into custody.

The bicycle was taken to the Southwest Precinct, as was the suspect, who was eventually released, as explained in the report, after a lieutenant who had stayed back at the scene showed up at the precinct with three children. The circumstances of their discovery was not described in the report, but it did say this:

.(They) were identified as (the suspect’s) children. All were … found to be in acceptable health but it should be noted that their clothes were dirty and the children themselves were unbathed to a point of being unsanitary. … (N)oting that the children’s mother had a no-contact order against her from being in contact with the children, it was collectively determined that in the best interest of the children, that (the suspect) be released to tend to the children’s needs. It was expressed by the children that (he) is the only parent that feeds them (and he) stated after he had invoked his right to remain silent that he wanted to change his mind, and stated that his girlfriend, who is the mother of (the children), had given him possession of the bicycle. (He) knew that the bicycle was not hers, but that he was trying to sell the bicycle to feed his children.

His release does *not* mean he isn’t facing charges; he was arrested on suspicion of trafficking in stolen property, which is a felony, and the report says the case has been forwarded to the Major Crimes Unit for investigation. We don’t know the suspect’s name, so we don’t know if he has a record.

58 Replies to "CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: How 'open letter' dad got daughter's bicycle back - and why the suspect wasn't jailed"

  • HG August 21, 2017 (9:52 pm)

    Those poor children…. I wish we could help them directly. 

  • Alki Resident August 21, 2017 (10:00 pm)

    So this father of the year steals to feed his kids. Now we are made to feel guilty because he can’t get his life together and it’s affecting everyone. In the end nothing will come of this and he will never serve time because he’s their only parent. This pisses me off on so many levels. 

    • Spokant August 21, 2017 (10:31 pm)

      Agreed Alki Resident. I mean we all know nothing is going to come of this, and while the bike is back to the rightful owner, the perp will not serve any time or face a fine (that he couldn’t pay anyways) and will likely be back on the street looking for stuff to steal/sell as a means to get “food for his children”.

      I feel bad for the children, but the perp? No way. In fact, given the amount of theft in the area, my opinion is that there is a massive criminal enterprise taking place in Seattle right now having to do with the homeless transient population. These people make their way around to neighborhoods stealing stuff to sell for either cash but more likely drugs (opiates) of some kind. No neighborhood is safe and nobody’s property is safe until the leaders of the city, mayor, police force emphasize stopping and punishing those who offend – including stealing an 8 year old’s bicycle.

      And the beat goes on.

      • Cheese August 22, 2017 (4:07 am)

        Where does it say that this person is a homeless transient. Sounds to me like your just a hater who took an oppertunity to profile and bash a certain group of people who you feel are beneath you, even though nothing to do with them was ever mentioned in the article. Nazis do the same thing…

    • JanS August 22, 2017 (12:45 pm)

      Between you and SpokanT, I don’t know who to be more angry at. Yeah, I guess I’m a bleeding heart liberal, but shame on you both. So, turn the children over to a mother who doesn’t want them, who will neglect them even more, so you can have your damned pound of flesh.  You have no idea that people like this exist? He threw the dirt on the kids so you can feel sorry for him? Are you nuts? I have lived in West Seattle for almost 43 years, and this kind of hate, this kind of “I’m better than you” and “you’re lying to get my sympathy”,, and “throw his ass in jail, because he’s a simple thief”..I’m wow! astounded…it’s getting worse and worse, as you sit there in your effing comfortable home, judging.  Bet you’re not going hungry tonight ! I’m sure those kids thank you for wanting to take their parent away. No skin off their back, so what? Right? How much do you help people like this in trouble? Maybe a lot, since I have no idea who you are…but it just doesn’t sound like that. to me. Before you make assumptions about me, just know that I am one step from homelessness, because of health issues, and no income at the moment.  I thank friends who step up and help me, and don’t criticize what I have done right or wrong to keep my head above water. I am saddened by both of your comments. And angered.

  • EC August 21, 2017 (10:07 pm)

    Hope you teach your kid that lesson, too, Byron. There are a lot of people out there who don’t have the luxury of choice.

    • flimflam August 22, 2017 (6:20 am)

      ahh. so the thief had no other choice to make other than stealing a little girls’ bike?

      • EC August 22, 2017 (9:44 am)

        Choice between breaking the law and feeding my kid? Yeah, I know which choice I’d make.

  • Debbie August 21, 2017 (10:25 pm)

    Byron has been made whole.  It was a crappy situation but he persevered and in the end has his property back.  Not everyone is so lucky.  Byron not only made his daughter happy but also uncovered some humans in our neighborhood who need some help.  Byron – great job.  And now all of that energy is doubly rewarded because now we can help some other children find some help and happiness too.  What an even more amazing  lesson for Byron’s daughter.  Dear WSB – if there is any way to help this family – how can I help? 

    • WSB August 21, 2017 (10:59 pm)

      I just learned of this twist to the story by reading the police-report narrative late today. It’s obviously just a summary … but it reminds me that police spend far more time doing social work than you might guess. And they deal with children – the innocent bystanders, whether the children of suspects, or victims, or witnesses … or sometimes the victims themselves – more often than we know, too. Anyway, not only do I not know the names, the report didn’t include the ages, either … only a mention that “a group” (of people) approached police at the scene, and then it cuts abruptly to the acting lieutenant showing up at the precinct with the three children. I am going to follow up tomorrow with a question about what happens in a situation like this – including general questions such as, are they also referred to services? For example, regarding making sure kids don’t go hungry during the summer, when they don’t have access to the free/reduced breakfasts and lunches available at school, the summer lunch programs continue at local libraries and in parks … TR

      • Bestbets August 21, 2017 (11:39 pm)

        Thank you.

      • Mike August 22, 2017 (7:05 am)

        WSB, good work digging deeper into the report too.  I’d be interested to know if DSHS was called in to help these kids out.  If their conditions are unsanitary and putting them at risk with health and hunger on top of a no contact order for their mother, there’s a lot more to this story.  In the end, I feel bad for all kids in this whole thing.  Byron did what was right and helped his kid get her bike back, obviously a caring an loving father.  I’d like to know what can be done to help the kids that SPD found in these conditions, what is the city council doing to help these kids?  SPD does far more than just ticket and arrest, they definitely do a lot of social work and help those in need too.

  • Mark August 21, 2017 (10:43 pm)

    AR to totally agree with you.  

  • Chuck August 21, 2017 (10:44 pm)

    All I can offer you, Alki Resident, is to look past your misplaced indignation and search for a bit of compassion in this case. Want to trade places with this gent? I didn’t think so. A mile in his shoes, and all that. And he’s stealing/peddling stolen goods to feed his kids, instead of the usual crack excuse. And no, I am not condoning his behavior. As HG stated, here’s one gent I’d like to very much help directly. I cannot imagine…

    • Alki Resident August 21, 2017 (11:03 pm)

      Chuck don’t ever go there with me. I don’t have extra funds to feed the world but I have nothing but compassion. I have $100 two weeks ago to the victim of Ryan Cox. What have you done? My first thought was giving those kids a hot bath in MY tub and get them clothes and food. I’ve been down and out and no place to live but I always picked myself up because I had kids to raise. Their booze drinkin coke snortin dad had other priorities. I always give back and always will. Everything I posted above was true. Get to know someone before you spout off.

      • CAM August 21, 2017 (11:28 pm)

        Sorry but this isn’t a situation for anger. Unless you are addressing that anger at the society that allows situations like this to develop with no recourse. There is no such thing as a black and white situation. If you can’t see that, I feel very sorry for you as well. I wouldn’t want to live with that much anger, fear, and hate in my heart.

        I’m happy that a young girl got her bike back and I’m sorry it happened to her. I’m also very happy that this family may now be getting some services but am sorry it degenerated to this degree. And, no, I don’t need to know what services they are getting or who is paying for them. Their individual trauma is none of my business. 

      • Elle Nell August 22, 2017 (7:41 am)

        Settle down Alki Resident– this is about possessions and theft. Both which have been around since the beginning of civilization. So I say, why do we act like this has just started, with SO much anger… and don’t get me wrong, I chased a bike thief through the alleys of the u District in my car about 20yrs ago, and got my bike back after an oscar award winning rendishan of the Streets of SF! But I think, we have become so attached to “things” it’s ridiculous!! and greedy no less. Open your mind– give it away in your heart and move the f&$@ ON!! Also, compassion means nothing if it is not practiced… 

      • Jethro Marx August 22, 2017 (8:18 am)

        We don’t know you but for your comments here, sir, and they seem pretty typical of the privileged class hoping to divide the downtrodden into those who deserve our help and those we ought to leave wallowing in despair. You “thought” about giving the kids a bath, huh? Was that because that would improve their situation or because clean kids are more palatable to you? You gave money to some guy who started a fight with a crazy guy, huh? I’d guess he probably has a more tightly woven safety net than the family we speak of here. You utter clear falsehoods and then brazenly tell us everything you said is true. Your actions online are little more than the Two Minutes’ Hate of Orwell, writ large. Perhaps I’m wrong; did you see this guy consuming cocaine and booze while the rest of us weren’t looking?

        • Jethro Marx August 22, 2017 (8:27 am)

          I suppose WSB is right about the booze and coke; that wasn’t clear to me on the first couple readings. And I’m not sure why I assumed you were a sir, but it’s probably because in my experience, this brand of “compassion” seems to come more often from my own sex.

          • Alki Resident August 22, 2017 (10:17 am)


            First of all, I’m a female and secondly had you actually read my post you’d see it was my ex that was boozing it up and drugging. The point of saying it was to say , we didn’t go steal stuff to make ends meet when I was a single mom.

            Court did not start a fight with Cox, Cox was blocking a lady from going somewhere and helped her out. This assult could’ve happened to anyone of us. You never would’ve called me privileged class had I not put my title as “Alki Resident”. I survive paycheck to paycheck but I’m always quick to hand out my last few bucks even though I could’ve used it. I’m not even going to go there about giving the kids a bath because your snide comments just show what kind of jerk you are. Instead of praising people who could’ve helped had the opportunity arose, you belittle and bash. I hope you’re not a parent.

          • Jethro Marx August 22, 2017 (2:21 pm)

            I shouldn’t have made light of the knife fight; you’re right about me being a jerk occasionally as well. It was poorly worded; I wouldn’t say he picked a fight, but the crazy guy probably thought he was. I think my assessment of your comments as privileged holds up, though. It’s not about your zip code, it’s about saying things like, “we never stole when we were in yadayadayada situation…” You’re speaking from a privileged position, perhaps not economically, but you are blessed with faculties, mental and social, that are often lacking on the mean streets. Nothing is easier than being proud of our own choices and then looking down on those who chose poorly.

             And I’m afraid I am a parent, but don’t worry, I’m an awesome dad and my daughter’s awesome, too.

      • Former 11th St Resident August 23, 2017 (1:37 pm)

         I have been in the “homeless with two babies, aged 1 month and 18 months old at that time”, when my abusive husband totally left us with a few months of unpaid rent/ utilities and nothing in the fridge 17 yrs ago.

        I didn’t do anything illegal, I went to DSHS, got us situated, found temporary housing-that lead to Low income housing, got myself started 2 years of schooling with two little ones.

        If the suspect really didn’t have any food, he can go to DSHS, and they will give you food stamps, about $500 /month or more in cash, helps you housing and stuff. But they don’t mess around, they make you work or go to school. If he is not doing so, he might have a reason not going there–such as drug or drinking issue.

        He is playing the card  “I had no choice but stealing to feed my kids’  -that’s totally BS, b/c I survived an abusive husband who had those issues. They lie to get what they want, they lie to cover up their problem-they use whatever they can to get away from taking responsibility. I know it for the first hand.

        I think child protective svs should investigate on  him, test him on any drugs or alcohol -and see what happens.  They really should step in-cuz they kids deserve better.



  • Kim August 22, 2017 (1:10 am)

    I think Les Miserables on this. I’m with Chuck and Cam, et al. These poor children.  There’s no safety net, and the trauma they experience is as grave as their situation. Of course I want to help.

  • aa August 22, 2017 (6:08 am)

    Ok, no where did I read the dad was “booze drinkin and coke snortin”. And based on this information it wasn’t the dad who stole the bike.

    The mom/girlfriend, who he is trying to keep away from the children, is mostly likely the one who committed the crime.  Yes he has a part in the mess. We know such a small piece of the story, way to early to be so angry at this family in my opinion. 

    • WSB August 22, 2017 (7:28 am)

      I read AR’s comment about “booze” etc. as referring to someone in her own life, not this case. There is no mention in this case’s report of any substance involvement or intoxication.

      • miws August 22, 2017 (8:40 am)

        I have to agree with WSB. 

        I first read AR’s comment as pointing toward the father of the children in this case, but then re-read it as being a person in her own life. 


  • AMD August 22, 2017 (7:44 am)

    It is possible to both have compassion for someone and recognize that the choices they are making are wrong.  I haven’t heard anyone calling for anyone to be let off the hook; only asking how the situation can be made better on the whole.

    Life isn’t black and white.  People aren’t always wholly bad human beings because they made bad choices.

    • Mary August 22, 2017 (8:33 am)

      Well put, AMD.

  • steve August 22, 2017 (8:36 am)

    I had a friend that used to run an agency for the homeless. I asked him about ways in which I could help.  His reply was that it can be dangerous to get directly involved. Best to leave it to professionals, was his advice. The best way is to find an agency you believe in and donate. It breaks my heart to read about these kids, but there is help and food available.  Stealing is NOT necessary.

  • JB August 22, 2017 (9:04 am)

    The only way to post something on Craigslist is to have a device that connects to the Internet, which cost money monthly. How much food those monthly payments could buy the children so that one doesn’t have to resort to crime is undetermined but it would be a start. I suspect it’s all about ones priority as to what is important to them.

    • MsD August 23, 2017 (1:31 am)

      In 2017, having some sort of device with access to the internet is like having a refrigerator; it’s not something that only people with stable financial situations have. (It’s necessary to have internet access to apply for just about any job now, as well.) I have no idea whether the dad in this story is telling the truth – he may be in a horrible situation, doing everything he can to feed his children, or he may be a scam artist and thief who uses his kids as props – but having internet access doesn’t identify him as someone who isn’t legitimately in a terrible financial situation.

    • AMD August 23, 2017 (6:48 am)

      The public library has devices that connect to the internet (they call them computers).  They’re free to anyone with a library card (which is also free).

    • Former 11th St Resident August 23, 2017 (1:43 pm)

      I agree with you, JB.


  • KT August 22, 2017 (9:32 am)

    Sympathy for the kids placed in this living arrangement is justified.  But I find that everyone is completely willing to accept the story put forth by the father, after invoking his right to remain silent, without the least bit of doubt.  Perhaps, just perhaps, he found the appearance of the kids at the precinct quite fortuitous.  Who knows?    

  • just wondering August 22, 2017 (9:50 am)

    It was just a bike.

  • T Rex August 22, 2017 (11:55 am)

    There is absolutely NO REASON that those children are not bathed and dressed in clean clothes. Hard for me to have compassion for that reason alone. You cannot tell me this man does not have one person in his life that would allow his children to have a place for a bath and a washing machine to clean their clothes. The police made the statement they were unsanitary!




    • Former 11th St Resident August 23, 2017 (1:46 pm)

      He says he did it for the kids, but he doesn’t care how dirty the kids are?  Neglect !

      Don’t use the kids for the excuse. There would be more to it, more like his own problem.  

  • Mark August 22, 2017 (12:01 pm)

    Debbie Byron has not been made whole, yes he may have gotten the bike back but how many hours did he spend trying to track it down?

    Regarding the thief there are lawful work opportunities available, thus no need to steal from others.  This perp needs to be treated as the thief he is.

    • Debbie August 22, 2017 (5:04 pm)

      In the eyes of the law, he was made whole.   The law can also potentially account for damages of hours spent if Bryon chooses to go to court for them.  However, don’t misunderstand me, I  agree with you.   The thief made a bad choice and definitely should pay for the crime.   100%.   My point was not in how the thief should be treated, the law will address that, but more offering forgiveness and help to the children for a choice they did not make, one put onto them.   You could argue that in turn I’m helping the thief but the thief is not my specific concern – the kids are.   

  • McFail August 22, 2017 (12:20 pm)

    I’m sure if anybody wanted to help the guy, Byron has his cell phone number. Email too since he posted the bike on Craigslist.  Perhaps friend him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

    • WSB August 22, 2017 (1:58 pm)

      I know you’re snarking but nonetheless, that wouldn’t seem to be possible since the suspect’s phone was “placed into evidence,” according to the report.

  • WS born and raised August 22, 2017 (12:24 pm)

    I think everyone needs to take a deep breath and calm down. Why must we try this person in the court of public opinion? We don’t know anything about this person other than they were clearly feeling desperate and out of options and did something they in all likelihood regret very much. We don’t know their mental health status. We don’t know their living situation, we don’t know the ages of their children or how long it had been since they ate a meal. Ease up people. I’m sure if your deepest, darkest skeleton were aired out for the world to see, you’d be having second thoughts about being so judgmental. We are all human beings, capable of good and bad, and need to treat each other as such. No situation is so black and white. Let the police, court, and social workers do their jobs here and mind your own beeswax.

    • JanS August 22, 2017 (1:06 pm)

      WS Born and raised – Hear, Hear!.  For some, he’s totally convicted already.  If this family is homeless (IF), housing is hard to find(I have been approved for senior housing, but who knows when a place will be available…have been on waitlists for almost 3 years now). IF this man is unemployed, just going out and getting one of those “plentiful” jobs is difficult because he has three children…who does he leave them with while looking? IF they are homeless,  what address do they use, so employers can contact him, if they want to hire him. There are all sorts of practical questions here.  And this family may not have all the information they need to line up all the services out there that some people think are readily available (they’re not) I hope , if they have a way to make this happen, that this family can at least get food stamps, not for him, but for the children. I thank SPD and Byron for seeing the situation as it is for the moment). And I thank WSB for bringing this situation to our attention, and for trying to get more information. This is mostly a giving community…people , compassionate people, will step up…they always do. I’m sure this man will pay one way or another, so the naysayers get their pound of flesh…until then, I think this public opinion court should be adjourned.

    • KT August 22, 2017 (8:39 pm)

      “We don’t know anything about this person other than they were clearly feeling desperate and out of options and did something they in all likelihood regret very much.”  You say “we don’t know anything about this person” then tell us something you apparently know.    

      • WS born and Raised August 23, 2017 (9:15 am)

        KT that’s a fair point.  But I think what’s most important is that people realize that we don’t know if this person is able to work (it’s possible that they could have a mental or physical disability that would prevent that).  And even if they are able to work, there are certainly circumstances that prevent people from being able to find jobs (being able to pass a background check, having an address to provide for job applications,  having to care for three children, not to mention that we live in a society of incredibly racist people as sad as that is).  Our system is broken and is designed to keep people who are down, down. We don’t know anything about this person. All of these things may be true or none of them may be true. My point is that we shouldn’t judge this person one way or the other.  Its not our job and it’s just putting more hatred, division, and negativity out into the world.  Let the police do their jobs, the social workers follow up, and the court decide this case. 

  • anonyme August 22, 2017 (12:50 pm)

    What I find even more disturbing than the fact that a felon was set free to commit more crimes, is that children who are at risk and clearly not being cared for were released back into a criminal’s custody. Both are issues that can and should be of concern to the community at large, and became everybody’s “beeswax” the moment the crime was committed and then reported here in a public forum.

    • WSB August 22, 2017 (1:04 pm)

      This was an arrest, not a conviction. We have no idea whether the suspect has any previous felonies, which at this point is the only thing that would make it accurate to describe him as a “felon.” Same goes for “criminal.” Innocent until proven guilty.

    • WS born and raised August 22, 2017 (1:24 pm)

      You are assuming that the family isn’t being
      followed up with by social workers and the folks whose job it is to monitor
      these situations and keep kids safe. We do not know the specifics of this
      situation. It’s easy to make assumptions, but that’s all they are…
      assumptions. You may also assume that ripping these children from their only
      parent is in their best interest, but you have no idea whether that’s the case.
      I feel for these kids and hope that the police/local officials are doing all
      they can to make sure they are safe.  Having two kids of my own, I can’t
      imagine a set of circumstances that would ever drive me to steal, but I am
      fortunate to have not been faced with that kind of hardship. This person still
      has to face charges for the crime he committed. Let the court do its job and
      quit the trash talking. 
      Maybe it’s the current political climate,
      but I am just so done with trash talking and the hatred. Nothing good or
      positive comes from it. Nothing good comes from vilifying people you don’t know
      or know anything about on a blog post.

  • JanS August 22, 2017 (1:08 pm)

    WSB, thank you….people tend to forget that. 

  • Jeannie August 22, 2017 (4:04 pm)

    If the bicycle thief truly, honestly needs to feed his kids, that’s a very sad situation. I suggest he visit the West Seattle Food Bank, or whichever food bank is nearest to him. No child should go hungry.

  • WSB August 22, 2017 (11:54 pm)

    For anyone checking back on this – sorry to report that I was not able to find out anything more today (Tuesday). Haven’t given up yet, though. – TR

    • Mike August 23, 2017 (6:48 am)

      Thanks WSB/TR

      I’m seeing more and more kids popping out of RV’s and tents in Seattle.  Kids have no option other than what adults can provide them with.  I think everyone would love to help these kids , and pretty much any kid in need, live a better life.

    • Debbie August 23, 2017 (7:09 am)


  • Byron August 23, 2017 (7:17 am)

    While I feel terrible for those kids. I am out $125 because the bike was beat to hell and have to get it fixed. With a $15 an hour job, that $200 he was trying to make by selling my daughters bike, he only had to work 13.3 hrs to make that. He said he knew it wasn’t his girlfriends bike but he still tried to sell it. He could have looked for the bike’s owner, I was offering a reward that would have made him more money. If he would have done the right thing he would have made more money but his choice was to break the law. I feel terrible for the kids but it sounds like the kids could use some help. Yes sympathy for the kids.

  • anonyme August 23, 2017 (11:22 am)

    Whether previously convicted or not, this dude willfully committed a crime.  That makes him a criminal — and semantics won’t help those kids.

    • Jethro Marx August 23, 2017 (2:28 pm)

      Semantics are as semantics do; in our country, we describe someone accurately as a criminal when they are charged and convicted or plead guilty. It’s a flawed and racist system, but that’s what we’re going on with. The problem for you and your ilk is, at what point do these kids move from humans in a grim situation of someone else’s choosing to a grim situation for which they are responsible? When they turn eighteen do we close the compassion valve on them? Compassion is passive; mercy is active, in the sense that we say, “you may have #$%&ed up on purpose, but we’re still going to help you.” What kind of parents do you think the alleged criminal had? Would your view of him change if he grew up with bike thief parents and no bathtub? Does it matter, now?

Sorry, comment time is over.