READER REPORT: The case of the stolen-and-bought-back ski boots

The crime didn’t happen in West Seattle, but the resolution did, with the assistance of Southwest Precinct officers, and Zach (a WS resident) wanted to share the story:

3 days ago, on Christmas eve-eve, downtown underneath the viaduct, someone smashed my wife and I’s car window and absconded with our ski bag.

In the bag: ski boots, pants, jacket, etc. An intolerable expense to replace. However, as the days went by it was less about losing the “stuff,” as it’s just stuff, and instead, the angst hinged on the nuisance of the insurance claim and getting the glass repaired, and above all, the feeling of obtrusion my wife and I felt. Our karma, we thought, was past due. Insert the SPD.

Yesterday, the day after Christmas, I perused OfferUp (a safer Craigslist) for my recently stolen ski boots. Alas, there they were! I messaged the “owner” of my boots and he agreed to sell me the boots. Amazingly, I got him to meet me at the Home Depot right across the street from the Southwest Precinct. I called the precinct for help and I was quickly connected with Larry Longley, to whom I divulged my story. He asked us, an hour before I was to meet the ski boot “owner,” to stop by the Precinct to see how SPD could help me safely retrieve my ski boots.

In addition to Larry Longley: Officers Andre Constantine, Jack Johns, Ryan Levens, Garth Lindelef, and Ken Mazzuca were there with my wife and I at the precinct. They were gracious with their time, curious, and extremely helpful. They were fervent in their mission to help law-abiding citizens, yet were buckled by bureaucracy. They unmasked my issue as thus: I could not prove these boots were mine (disclaimer, take a picture of all your valuables) and because we couldn’t prove the man meeting me stole them, we were stuck on how to proceed.

With the officer’s guidance, we devised a plan and operated within the boundaries of the law: I was to go meet the “owner” (thief) and ask him a barrage of ski-related questions – that he clearly wouldn’t be able to answer – in order to fluster and redirect him, all the while, the officers did a civil standby (an amazing service I had no idea existed) to make sure I wasn’t harmed. It worked flawlessly. With the police officers behind me, I effectively confronted the thief and got him to admit the boots weren’t his, I then gave the thief $10 to complete a transaction so he wouldn’t file a complaint of theft (incredulous, right?) and I victoriously went on my way.

Thank you Seattle Police Department, for your patience and inclination to help. Keep up the good work!!!

(Though we can’t find an official SPD page about “civil standbys,” here’s a local lawyer’s explanation.)

16 Replies to "READER REPORT: The case of the stolen-and-bought-back ski boots"

  • Diane December 27, 2017 (7:27 pm)

    amazing story; thank you 

  • Eddie December 27, 2017 (8:45 pm)

    Curious,  what specifically makes Offer Up a “safer Craigslist”? Is it that it isnt near as popular so the bad guys don’t waste their time with it, or what?

    • Michael December 27, 2017 (9:41 pm)

      Especially when the stolen merchandise showed up there instead (presumably) of CL?

    • zbadger December 29, 2017 (1:27 pm)

      SPD, when I spoke with them, highlighted how OfferUp worked closely with them. Closer than CL or eBay. Hooray for making an effort!

  • T December 27, 2017 (8:47 pm)

    Glad you got your stuff back but I feel like I have to take a shower after reading how it had to go down. Sorry this happened to you.

  • Alki Resident December 27, 2017 (9:29 pm)

    Please don’t give people the impression that Offer Up is safer. 

  • dsa December 27, 2017 (10:20 pm)

    Offer up is so safe, he found his theft items there.

  • JanS December 27, 2017 (10:42 pm)

    neither CL or Offerup is for the weak hearted, I find

  • Ann Erikson December 28, 2017 (7:58 am)

    We had a similar experience, except with a stolen $5,000 bicycle. We found the bicycle on OfferUp and made arrangements to buy back our property. Unfortunately, our experience with the SPD (SW precinct) was not as helpful.  After multiple phone calls to the department to inquire how to proceed and dealing with a less than helpful dispatcher, she told us she would send someone to the designated place if there was an available officer. No officers showed up, even though we talked to a patrol car after the fact and they had been available and in the area.  We paid the $450 to get the bike back (to ensure our safety) and felt completely unsupported by the SPD. I’m glad you had a better experience.

  • Brian December 28, 2017 (9:10 am)

    I would assume calling OfferUp a ‘safer craigslist’ would be libel…

    Especially considering your stolen goods were found on OfferUp not Craigslist

  • wetone December 28, 2017 (10:00 am)

    Seeing this all to often these days as people have to pay POS thieves to get  property back. Thieves know exactly what they are doing and fear little of Seattle gov. doing anything towards bringing criminal charges against them.  Have had multiple friends find their stolen goods mainly on Offer Up and a few on C/L.  Only one friend got stuff back with out paying ;)  Areas involved WS and UW.

  • Trickycoolj December 28, 2017 (10:01 am)

    Holy crap! I just found a unique item that was stolen off my BFs porch last week on Offer Up!  Posted last night. New with tags! So sick of Porch Pirates. 

  • Blinkyjoe December 28, 2017 (4:49 pm)

    Great. Thief gets 10 bucks and skates away.  He’s learned his lesson. Prowl cars, steal other people’s things, get money. Good job! 

  • Alki resident December 30, 2017 (10:35 am)

    Eddie Nagan is wanted for several Offer Up robberies, look it up, I’m not kidding. 

    • WSB December 30, 2017 (11:15 am)

      To save anyone else the trouble: The person you mention is not local. Kent. I checked the court and jail records and it doesn’t appear he’s been picked up yet (he pleaded guilty but didn’t show up for sentencing so a warrant was issued). And just for the record, the case in which he was prosecuted involved LetGo, not OfferUp, according to the charging documents, despite the quotes in the tv story. Anyway, I don’t think anyone is arguing that any of these services are necessarily “safe” – I can recall at least one case on which we reported in which “OfferUp” factored – but even back in the olden days, people connecting through old-school newspaper “classified ads” occasionally ran into trouble too. Just not so quickly … you couldn’t steal something and then have a classified ad running any sooner than a few days later, not a few hours! – TR

      • Alki Resident December 30, 2017 (9:17 pm)

        He’s not local but he close by enough to sell to one of our area residents and being he is still out there, people should use caution. Washingtons Most Wanted mentioned Offer Up which is why I’m posting his name. 

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