‘They’ve taken away our only line of defense’: Here’s what happened when volunteer steward at car-prowl-plagued West Seattle park tried to fight back

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If you use West Seattle’s only dog park, the Westcrest Park Off-Leash Area, you’ve benefited from the work of Steve McElhenney, who’s been the volunteer steward there for two decades.

He’s given thousands of hours. But one of the gifts he’s tried recently to give – the gift of safety – has been roundly rejected. And he’s furious.

As has been reported in West Seattle Crime Watch coverage here over the years, Westcrest is a car-prowl hot spot. (Here’s just one of dozens of reports we’ve published.) McElhenney says he’s tried to get extra police attention there. But, he’s been told – as precinct leadership has said at countless community meetings – they’re shorthanded. (Back in February, the precinct said they’d try for extra patrols, but nothing’s been mentioned since then.) So he tried something else, something countless people are using on their own porches, decks, and yards: A camera.

A few months ago, he bought what he refers to as a “trail camera,” the kind used to watch wildlife, among other things. He put it about 15 feet up a tree with a view of the parking lot used most often by off-leash-area visitors, at 5th and Cloverdale.

He set it for “motion,” not continuous recording. He even camouflaged it a bit, painting it black and arranging some leaves.

It caught some car prowlers in action, McElhenney says. When it did, he printed out the images of thieves and their vehicles and posted them on the park’s kiosk, to ask that park users watch out for those particular people/vehicles. He says he tried to take the images to police, too, but had no luck.

This week, the project came to a halt. Someone from Seattle Parks found the camera and removed it, also taking down the images posted on the kiosk, McElhenney says. He wasn’t at the park when this happened, but says a park regular who knew the camera was his intercepted the Parks employee and recovered it.

When asked why, the Parks employee is reported to have said, “It’s illegal.” As is the car prowling, McElhenney retorts. One particular day, he recalls, 7 smash-and-grabs were reported. “And now they’ve taken away our only line of defense.”

We asked Seattle Parks about it. While spokesperson Christina Hirsch didn’t have information on this particular situation, she said, “Under current City laws, we’re not allowed to have surveillance cameras outdoors in parks.” And as for removing what was posted at the kiosks, “Staff monitor park kiosks when they have time and remove inappropriate content, usually advertisements for private businesses. We cannot have folks posting images from unauthorized cameras in parks, and staff would remove that content.”

McElhenney says the photos were also posted on social media, but that doesn’t necessarily reach everyone who uses the park, and isn’t comparable to catching the eye of someone when they’re right there at the park and might be able to look around for potential repeat prowlers. The signs in the photo at the top of the story are also his work and still up – for now.

He’s most frustrated because his ultimate goal is to make West Seattle’s only dog park safer, for his fellow visitors. “It’s THEIR park … I want them to know they can come to the park and feel safe.”

125 Replies to "'They've taken away our only line of defense': Here's what happened when volunteer steward at car-prowl-plagued West Seattle park tried to fight back"

  • Bob July 20, 2021 (5:04 pm)

    Seems like the code allows specific parks already, and there’s a process to get more authorized? https://library.municode.com/wa/seattle/codes/municipal_code/243570?nodeId=TIT18PARE_CH18.14SUCASEPASo maybe McElhenney can get the city to allow it for the dog park (good luck :| )

    • Vicki July 21, 2021 (8:50 am)

      My dog is part of PAW PATROL. Every dog owner who takes their dog to WestCrest or anywhere, can participate.  Contact:Jennifer Danner SPD. The tag is worn like the license tag, and you are given a phone # to report crime or illegal activity while with your dog. 

  • Kadoo July 20, 2021 (5:21 pm)

    Seattle loves to protect its criminals. So frustrating. 

    • Peter July 20, 2021 (9:25 pm)

      My thoughts exactly. We need better leadership in Seattle. 

    • law is law July 20, 2021 (10:27 pm)

      you two are literally getting mad at seattle for enforcing the law…  major facepalm moment…

      • Adam July 20, 2021 (11:08 pm)

        Selectively enforcing the laws. That’s the issue. 

        • TJ July 21, 2021 (5:26 am)

          The cameras aren’t supposed to be there which means if someone sees those pictures posted and realizes they’re being recorded in an area where cameras are illegal? They can sue and the taxpayers will have to pay out for the lawsuit.Whining about selectively enforcing the law ignores what the consequences are of ignoring particular laws like this. 

        • Wes July 21, 2021 (10:21 am)

          Does anyone think this should be legal?  Maybe he’s not a bad guy, but folks mounting hidden cameras in parks is really creepy to me! 

          • Jim P July 21, 2021 (12:00 pm)

            Parks are public spaces. In general, and understanding I am NOT a lawyer, there is minimal expectation of privacy in public spaces.The government is much more constrained in this than private citizens would bn.

          • Stevo July 21, 2021 (10:51 pm)

            0 oYou mean creepy, like a total stranger smashing your window and rummaging through your personal belongings kind of creepy?

      • Resident July 21, 2021 (12:14 am)

        If they were in force all of the laws then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      • Apple July 21, 2021 (5:47 pm)

        Laws can and should be changed, especially for public safety reasons.

    • mb July 21, 2021 (6:01 am)

      Are people still leaving items in their cars that are visible from outside the car? Why would anyone do that in any major city in the US? I’m from a different big city and learned that YEARS ago.  If you don’t give them a reason to break your window, they usually don’t. There will always be people out there looking for an opportunity, don’t help them.

      • WSB July 21, 2021 (6:56 am)

        This is not true, in our years of publishing neighborhood crime coverage (and having been the victims of repeat car prowls ourselves), many stories of: Nothing to take, nothing in view, broken into anyway,

        • Rachel D July 21, 2021 (8:46 am)

          My car was broken into at this park and there was nothing visible from outside and nothing to steal. These thieves are moving fast, breaking into as many cars as possible while the parking lot is free of people. They hit 4 cars in a row with mine, I really doubt they looked first. 

      • A Park User July 21, 2021 (7:54 am)

        I love victim blaming /s.If you were a regular user of the park and part of our Facebook group you would know that often times these people will smash all the windows even if they aren’t grabbing anything from the car.  But regardless,  your victim blaming is disgusting. 

      • keden July 21, 2021 (8:55 am)

        Items that have been stolen from my car include a well-worn pair of shoes, 58 cents in change and a half-empty tin of Altoids.  

      • Stevo July 21, 2021 (9:07 am)

        Not true in most cases at the park! The’re smashing and dashing, often not getting anything in their brief rummage of front console and glove box. Unfortunately just creating a financial , and time consuming burden for the victims!

      • Jim P. July 21, 2021 (12:05 pm)

        ” If you don’t give them a reason to break your window, they usually don’t.”With respect, this is the same argument used on women “If she had dressed modestly, she would not have been assaulted”Not the victim’s responsibility.  Perhaps if criminals actually got punished for their crimes, there would be less incentive for them but as is, around here, they tend to get a cookie and a hug when caught and assured that it was society’s failure and not theirs that led to their making “non-optimal life decisions”.

      • Wseattlite July 21, 2021 (12:49 pm)

        mb – I hope you can move over to the camp that wants to change the illegal behavior and quit blaming the victims.

      • Isa Gonzalez-Wiler July 21, 2021 (4:09 pm)

        So not true. I have twice had my windows smashed and nothing even taken (as there was nothing worth taking) they hoped to find something once they got in, opened the gloved compartment and the between the seats compartment and found nothing. 

      • JP July 21, 2021 (5:10 pm)

        MB – Honest question, do you also ask what a woman was wearing before she was assaulted, too?Stop with the victim-blaming. Criminals aren’t victims; they’re abusers.

  • Auntie July 20, 2021 (5:33 pm)

    I guess a citizen patrol of shifts watching the parking lots would be considered vigilantism and would not be allowed, either. It’s a great day to be a car prowler. 

  • Duffy July 20, 2021 (5:46 pm)

    This city is a mess. So now citizens can’t do anything when they are victims of crime? No measures to try and fight it? It’s a camera for crying out loud, not a armed guard. And you gotta love the police response to everything these days…(“we are short handed”). BS up and down.

    • Anne July 20, 2021 (6:55 pm)

      Your denigrating crack -re:police bring short handed is BS

  • sw July 20, 2021 (5:53 pm)

    Wow – thanks SPD and Seattle Parks.  Way to be proactive.  Does SPD still have horses in the facility next door?  I know they have retired them from crowd control, etc. but if they are still there I don’t see why an officer couldn’t trot them around through the parking lot as a deterrent once in a while.  If staffing is an issue, maybe do some out-of-the-box thinking to help remedy a known and persistent problem?

    • Anne July 20, 2021 (6:56 pm)

      Are you freaking serious-“ just trot the retired horses around & through the parking lot”????

      • Steve July 20, 2021 (7:56 pm)

        Commenter Anne: telling it like it is!

      • Defesto July 20, 2021 (10:25 pm)

        Thanks for contributing to the conversation, Anne. I think the intent was to have a mounted patrol as a deterrent, not participating in a steeplechase. What suggestions do you have to try and reduce the constant breaking?  Anything constructive would be welcome. 

      • WSB July 20, 2021 (10:29 pm)

        The horses are not “retired.” We photographed them at Alki on July 4th.

      • AHResident July 21, 2021 (6:38 am)

        They literally trot around the park on a regular basis.  My daughter and I have chatted with mounted officers twice this summer.

      • El Tigre July 21, 2021 (10:06 pm)

        Bullets are less than $1 each. First offense is $500 or 50 hours of community service. Second offense is $1,500 AND 150 hours of community service. Third strike costs your next of kin $1.

  • Mr J July 20, 2021 (6:14 pm)

    This is a great example of why we need to divest from SPD and invest in community policing alternatives. Having the citizens of District 1 prioritize community safety concerns and dispatch a community officer to patrol the area during its busiest times. 

    • Bradley July 20, 2021 (8:11 pm)

      No it’s not. These are desperate people.  Wouldn’t want to get in their way. 

    • Mark Fuchsists July 20, 2021 (8:33 pm)

      “Community Policing” is the shortest path to untrained unarmed civilian hall monitors getting killed by armed criminals.   Fund real police doing real policing.   This “community police” nonsense is nothing but a recipe for disaster.

    • H July 21, 2021 (9:27 am)

      Not a good idea.   We need more police presence, not less.   More enforcement of existing laws, not less.   Vote Pete Holmes out, he is a huge part of this problem.   Cast your vote for Ann Davison.

    • JP July 21, 2021 (5:12 pm)

      Mr. J – This is quite the opposite. Rather, this is a great example of why we need to increase police funding and stop treating our police like the enemy.

      • Donna July 22, 2021 (3:31 am)

        I totally agree. Nobody says they have to go  “WTO” but when I grew up in West Seattle we were worried about the cops busting us at the parks  for smoking a joint! This is all trickle down from reduced funding. Blessings and best wishes to all who have to deal with this .;)

  • Jeepney July 20, 2021 (6:15 pm)

    Before everyone points the finger at SPD and their inability to prevent these types of crimes, please remember that the citizens of Seattle have elected councilmembers who have reduced funding to their department.

  • Charles Burlingame July 20, 2021 (6:56 pm)

    Seattle has privacy and surveillance laws, yes it’s true. Thanks for enforcing them, Seattle Parks.

    • Ron Swanson July 20, 2021 (7:16 pm)

      You have no constitutional right to privacy in a public parking lot.  You do have the city tying its own hands with respect to crime prevention based on tinfoil hat loons.

      If there had been cameras at Emma Schmitz Overlook we might have caught Greggette Guy’s murderer.

      • 🤦‍♂️ July 20, 2021 (8:04 pm)

        So true Ron.

      • Brian July 20, 2021 (8:29 pm)

        This doesn’t sound anything Iike Ron Swanson…

      • junctioneer July 20, 2021 (8:45 pm)

        And if we all lived in the world of 1984 there would be virtually no crime, ever!

        • Bill July 20, 2021 (9:35 pm)

          It would be like Germany in the 1930’s- no crime whatsoever!  

        • Ron Swanson July 20, 2021 (11:46 pm)

          Slippery slope fallacy, my old friend, we meet again!

    • No thanks big brother July 20, 2021 (10:31 pm)

      Uhhh, what else did these cameras catch? “Set to motion” suggests they recorded all motion. I assume this guy then watched these recordings of ordinary people who maybe thought no one was looking. Yeah, he caught some car prowls but the invasion of privacy required was excessive. No thanks. Personally, I am grateful that Seattle parks removed the camera and I fine its placement misguided. Yes, we want to stop car prowls, but no we don’t want to live in a surveillance state. 

      • Matt P July 20, 2021 (11:48 pm)

        There is no invasion of privacy in a public place.  By definition there cannot be.  If you decide to just start peeing in the road and get caught, are you going to claim invasion of privacy because people looked?

        • No thanks big brother July 21, 2021 (9:02 am)

          Matt, I understand it isn’t a private space, but it’s also illegal to record someone without their knowledge. And while it is a public space, in the absence of any signage saying you’re being recorded or any sign of another person, one might assume they are alone. Some people are very comfortable posting photos of themselves online or having others record them doing even benign things like park their car and go to a park. But others of us would like to retain our private lives to the extent that we still can. Here is WA’s law on this matter. Washington law requires the consent of all parties to legally record in-person or telephone conversations. Consent is considered obtained via a reasonably clear announcement made to all parties during the recording. Violations are considered a gross misdemeanor and can also lead to civil damages. 

          • HP Resident July 21, 2021 (9:40 am)

            I don’t disagree to your point, but that particular statute is for voice recording.  Images can be captured in public spaces without consent.  

          • Mickle July 21, 2021 (2:39 pm)

            Doesn’t the city photograph without our knowledge? What’s with all the cameras they put up all over?

          • Ti Dave July 21, 2021 (9:23 pm)

            You are misinformed about this. Our state is a two-party state for **AUDIO** recordings, not video only. No foul with video surveillance in a public space.

      • A Park User July 21, 2021 (8:00 am)

        Interesting.  You think anyone has the time to sit there all day and watch this camera for kicks? No,  just like your ring camera at your house,  you only watch it when people steal off your porch or someone rings the doorbell (or I really suggest you find a hobby). As an actual park user who has seen about 30 cars with smashed windows over the last year at our park,  I’m absolutely a fan of the camera.  Unless you are a regular park user,  maybe butt out. I’d also suggest you stop driving,  entering any business,  or visiting other people’s houses,  cause you are being constantly recorded.  🙄

  • Bradley July 20, 2021 (7:07 pm)

    Don’t blame SPD.  Lay it at Lisa Herbolds and Lorena Gonzalez’ feet.  And our sad council.  Are Counselors and Street Czars supposed to be on this?   Crime gets a free pass these days. 

  • sam-c July 20, 2021 (7:14 pm)

    This is so frustrating to hear. We’ve not used dog parks lately (due to senior, aging dog (he was old for a few years….couldn’t walk must past the house sidewalk) that passed over the rainbow bridge recently).  But reading stories like this, you understand why people take dogs off leash at other locations.  Please point all the commentators to this article when they complain about off leash dogs at school playgrounds (over the summer) or other places.  And then, point Jort to this article when people talk about (NEEDING CARS)  to take their dogs to other dog parks in other parts of the city/ other cities/ Luther Burbank park)

    • JMurphy July 21, 2021 (6:52 am)

      We also have two older dogs that are no longer able to go to Westcrest but I have to say that I would think long and hard before going back there and risking having my car broken into.

  • Crank July 20, 2021 (7:18 pm)

    I hate car prowlers. My family tries to absolutely clear everything out of sight when we park anywhere.  But are people really advocating that individuals be allowed to set up personal cameras in parks if they feel like it? And stream or post images? Without any regulation or authority?  Because while Steve has good intentions, there’s probably many others that don’t. 

    • Lana July 20, 2021 (9:29 pm)

      We are frequent users of this park.  Thank you Steve of your efforts to maintain it.  My family is appreciative.  

    • Bill July 20, 2021 (9:39 pm)

      Since when is a parking lot where numerous property crimes have been committed and reported on — part of “a park”?  Why do you think that CRIMINALS should have privacy to commit their crimes?

    • Tim in Seattle July 20, 2021 (11:14 pm)

      You don’t have any legal expectation of privacy on public streets or in parks. It is perfectly legal to take pictures in a park, if there are people in the picture they can ask you to delete it but cannot legally force you to do it. I don’t see the difference here. Just guessing, but I think Possibly a parks department restriction against trail cams, but not a law.

  • Blbl July 20, 2021 (7:39 pm)

    As a non-criminal who wishes to NOT be recorded and monitored while I visit a park, thank you Seattle Parks Dept. 

    • 🤦‍♂️ July 20, 2021 (8:17 pm)

      You are being recorded everywhere you go whether it’s security cameras at houses or businesses or someone filming their dog or kids in a park while you are in the background. Someone could have a hidden camera on themselves and follow you down a path at a park and you would not know about it. The only way to have privacy is to create it. Not trying to be mean with my comments, just trying to educate because I see a lot of comments that are in line with how I used to feel. 

    • Bill July 20, 2021 (9:45 pm)

      I call BS!  What are you hiding?  Come on now fess up! — There are surveillance cameras every where — every single business has them! — Which businesses in WS are YOU CURRENTLY BOYCOTTING solely because you are “ recorded and monitored while I visit “?

    • 1994 July 20, 2021 (9:59 pm)

      Doesn’t your smart phone provider know your whereabouts at all times? There is no more privacy in the  new cyber world.

      • Blbl July 20, 2021 (10:44 pm)

        Yes, my smart phone provider knows my location. Because I knowingly and voluntarily provided that information. But it does not record, watch, and upload my image to social media. Can you not see the distinction? What this is is illegal, and I’m glad it is stopped.

        • Canton July 21, 2021 (12:02 am)

          Look up Pegasus Spyware, and see what you think. 

  • junctioneer July 20, 2021 (7:43 pm)

    Agreed. We cannot have rando citizens putting cameras on and recording people. That is extremely inappropriate. The city’s property is not your own personal property to be your own lawn enforcement and write your own laws. Trying to stop car prowls is not a reason to record people without warrant. Also, you’ll only help these people to get away by secretly recording them. Do you think the police would actually accept a hidden citizen camera on park property? If I saw that camera I would have reported it to police. Who knows what someone will do with that footage. I don’t know this Steve guy.

    • 🤦‍♂️ July 20, 2021 (8:08 pm)

      No one needs a warrant to film. There’s no expectation of privacy in public. Supreme Court has ruled on it. A citizen can film in that lot with an iPhone for example, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. If they try to restrict a person’s right to film, it’s a First Amendment violation and the citizen could sue a cop or another citizen for deprivation of rights.

      • bill July 20, 2021 (8:58 pm)

        The First Amendment restrains the government, ie police, parks dept, other city, county, state, and federal agencies. Not private citizens.

      • Bill July 20, 2021 (9:51 pm)

        You’d think that after the Rodney King beating anonymously filmed – that people would have caught on!

    • Yup July 20, 2021 (8:35 pm)

      If you read the story, Steve has been doing work on his own time for this park for over 20 years.  He has good intentions for all of his efforts.  This is a public place and I can record you or anyone else at anytime I/ anyone wants to. This park has changed over the last few years and it is not for the better.  I myself stopped going after my dog was attacked by another dog and I got bit 3 times.  If you have not been to this park. Then don’t try and fix it with your idiotic comments. 

      • junctioneer July 20, 2021 (8:51 pm)

        Good intentions have absolutely nothing to do with this. Donald Rumsfeld was a public servant for decades. He had good intentions (presumably?). We have laws for a reason. I’m not sure what I’m even arguing against. The law is clear, and this issue was handled appropriately. Filming on your iPhone is in no way, shape, or form the same argument. Please, before you comment, stop to think for a bit instead of what you want, think that we live in a society based not on how people feel about issues but about real law, written down, that we have to follow.Also please do a basic google search about filming in the city of Seattle and read any of the results.

  • flimflam July 20, 2021 (7:49 pm)

    It’d be interesting if as much effort was given in catching these car prowl jerks…

  • Auntie July 20, 2021 (8:07 pm)

    What should I do if I see someone breaking into my car there? I cannot confront them, for fear of being accosted myself. If I call 9-1-1, will anyone really come and if they do, will the thieves be long gone? We quit going there a couple of years ago after having our car windows smashed (there was nothing in there to take). What is the point of having an off-leash dog park if you can’t leave your car and go play in the park? Hey! Let’s take Fido to the off-leash park and sit in the car! Woohoo!

  • 🤦‍♂️ July 20, 2021 (8:19 pm)

    Police are, or should be, law enforcement officers not feelings enforcement officers.

    • law is law July 20, 2021 (10:26 pm)

      yeah, and the law is you can’t put a personal video camera up on park property and start recording everyone.  so good on them for taking it down.

    • Ron Swanson July 20, 2021 (11:44 pm)

      …does not exist unless it’s a place you would reasonably expect privacy like a restroom.  It doesn’t exist in public parking lots.

  • Karen July 20, 2021 (8:49 pm)

    Wake up Seattlites. There is something SO wrong about protecting criminals and not Joe public or property. Major changes needed!

    • Bill July 20, 2021 (10:00 pm)

      And to clarify things:  These criminal car prowlers are in fact “BREAKING AND ENTERING THIEVES” and certainly NOT part of the concept of “Joe Public”!

    • 1994 July 20, 2021 (10:01 pm)

      Totally agree! Especially considering all the TAXES we pay to keep the community safe. Why not pay some people who need a job to monitor and patrol the parking area? The parks is pulling in lots of their new park district property tax money….how about keep the park users safe???

  • Peter July 20, 2021 (8:53 pm)

    I love the “it’s ok for me to break the law because other people break the law” line of reasoning. Always a classic. 

  • Stevo July 20, 2021 (10:02 pm)

    I would request that these people against my camera please come spend a couple hours a day in the parking lot to help deter these car prowlers! Thanks!

    • law is law July 20, 2021 (10:31 pm)

      you’re welcome to stay in the lot and deter the prowlers.  just maybe, you know, don’t break the law trying to stop people from breaking the law?  

    • bill July 20, 2021 (10:35 pm)

      It doesn’t matter how well-intentioned you are, and no one is questioning your sincerity. On public property you have to operate within the law, even to catch thieves. 

  • High Point July 20, 2021 (11:05 pm)

    As citizens we often get caught up in the specifics and lose track of the bigger picture. Does this situation suck? Yes. Should the parks department knowingly allow a webcam to remain in a tree at a public park? Absolutely not. Same goes for a library or community center or any other public space. I have no problem with someone filming with an iPhone inside a library but if I heard that a librarian found a private webcam and then left it there simply because they assumed someone left it there with good intentions I would be furious. This is simply an issue of policy and not about intention.

  • Aj July 20, 2021 (11:23 pm)

    Doesn’t seem unreasonable to change city law to allow for police surveillance machines in the parking lot, such as https://www.wcctv.com/parking-lot-security-cameras/ These are in many shopping lots today and are a statistical deterrent to illegal activity in lots. They are also highly visible to let everyone know they are level set being watched.

      • 2 Much Whine July 21, 2021 (7:29 am)

        WSB you nailed it again.  They also have those cameras in the Home Depot parking lot.  Why not at Westcrest and Lincoln Park?  If they are publicly funded I would think their use in a park would be more acceptable than in the parking lots of private enterprises.  OR we could just move the dog park to the lower bridge where cameras are already in place  – of course this suggestion is ridiculous but it is kinda fun to think about!

    • Blbl July 21, 2021 (8:56 am)

      There’s a big difference between a private corporation (or person) surveilling you on their own property and the government doing it on your public property. 

      • Wseattlite July 21, 2021 (2:21 pm)

        It is good to know that you do not endorse body cams on police to protect your privacy when in public or in the sanctity of your own home.

      • Alan Smithee July 25, 2021 (5:58 pm)

        It is not illegal for the government to have cameras at parks.  There is no reasonable expectation of privacy at public parks.  The City of Seattle started with cameras at parks in 2008 as a pilot and made it a permanent activity in 2010.  http://clerk.seattle.gov/search/ordinances/123411 (AN ORDINANCE relating to surveillance cameras in Seattle parks)

  • Ron Swanson July 21, 2021 (12:00 am)

    This guy has the right idea but went about it the wrong way. 

    There is absolutely no law against recording from your car – dashcams are so cheap now you could be recording the entire parking lot from multiple angles in HD for a couple hundred bucks. 

    Buy a tall junker and park with a good view of the lot, and there you go. 

    (While this sounds crazy every new Tesla’s Sentry Mode does pretty much the same thing!)

  • JPC July 21, 2021 (12:12 am)

    Four words:  purple rain glitter bomb.  If you don’t know what purple rain is, just search for it on Amazon.  If you don’t know what a glitter bomb is… well, then, you have a lot of excellent YouTube videos to catch up on.  All you need to do is get a donor car, build yourself a purple rain glitter bomb, and then place as many cameras in your car as you want.  Leave a decoy wallet on the front seat to attract the would-be thieves, and then let the magic happen.  They’ll be purple for weeks and your YouTube video will get a million hits.

  • Harry B July 21, 2021 (7:35 am)

    The thing that makes me angry and that I find completely unacceptable is that the City “has time” to enforce some laws but not others.  It seems like the city has the time and resources to enforce laws they want taxpayers and homeowners to follow, but they don’t have the time to enforce laws ignored by vagrants, street thugs, professional thieves, and people with no residence or history or legitimate business in Seattle.  Who decides which laws to enforce and which ones to ignore?  It is ridiculous, illogical, and unpatriotic, if not unconstitutional.

  • anonyme July 21, 2021 (7:39 am)

    I’m all for cameras in parking lots.  Along trails, no.  The laws need some clarification, but as long as they do exist they need to be enforced.  But going with the hypocrisy theme that Seattle is so famous for, why not enforce other laws pertaining to parks?  Like camping?  Off-leash dogs on beach?  Fires?  Enough with selective enforcement.

  • granted July 21, 2021 (7:59 am)

    1. Your right to take *photographs* of people in public places depends on you being present while doing it. In my opinion, using an unattended stand-alone camera is not a protected right.
    2. Washington requires both parties to consent to audio recordings, so if this camera was recording audio with the video, in my opinion it would be illegal.

    I am not an attorney and this is my opinion, not legal advice.

  • Jeff July 21, 2021 (8:14 am)

    I applaud Steve’s efforts to make a safer place in his community. More and more the criminals are able to do what they want without fear of arrest. How about citizens taking turns watching from a location in the lot, highly visible, to deter criminals from having free access. Let them know they are being watched! Maybe a sign at the entrance stating such. If I lived near there I would gladly donate some time to watch.

    • Stevo July 21, 2021 (9:37 am)

      If you look at the pic at beginning of article, you’ll see I had a sign on the front gate requesting people to spend a few minutes monitoring the parking lot for car prowlers. Parks just removed that yesterday! It has worked on a very small scale! As have the pics posted! I’ve had several people contact me regarding vehicles posted. If they know they’re being watched, they’ve left everytime!

  • Jort July 21, 2021 (8:16 am)

    How would people feel if somebody put a camouflaged, secret camera overlooking a playground and then that person uploaded the photos of children playing to an online site? People would lose their minds, rightfully so. There’s a reason we don’t allow citizens to do this. It’s among the same reasons we don’t allow private citizens to be vigilantes for robberies or murders. It’s not our jobs. Even if you don’t think SPD is doing the job, you don’t get to step in instead. My recommendation to people getting the cars broken into is to stop driving to the park and bike or walk, instead. You don’t need a car.

  • 1 WS resident July 21, 2021 (9:36 am)

    JPC your “right” to not be victimized by criminals is apparently overridden by the criminals right to sue you because you are causing them PTSD because they got dyed purple. Oh- and a flake of glitter got in their eye causing them discomfort so prepare to pay their inflated medical/mental bills forever.By trying to stop the bad guys you are depriving them of their livelihood and creating a hostile environment where they might get nervous about getting caught so it’s quit understandable that the criminals should be able to beat you up in order to keep you from aiding in their arrest, thus causing them stress and inconvenience.  And before you take any action to defend yourself, you should consider their mental state.  Were they feeling restless, bored, impulsive or having a bad day?  Then shame us us for trying to coerce them into abiding to laws, thus depriving them of the god-given-right to hear the wonderful sound of broken glass and the job satisfaction of having scored free (stolen) stuff.  That is the new “and Justice for All”.

    • Pessoa July 22, 2021 (10:38 am)

      No, as private citizens we just want to be able to go to the park without being
      secretly recorded.   It’s a small “ask.”  Oh,  by the way,  brevity is the soul of wit. 

  • Donald Beamish July 21, 2021 (9:58 am)

    Total reliance on technology is the problem. Thieves and criminals are generally one jump ahead of the shoeshine and can figure out how to thwart your best electronic efforts.  The best possible solution is to place a human being in a position of authority to monitor the place. The last time I checked, there are no laws against using your eyes and ears in a public place.  Someday, all places of human activity, both public and private will need to be protected by on site security.  If this isn’t the world you want, then prepare to surrender, the criminals are winning. 

  • Neighbor July 21, 2021 (12:02 pm)

    Help me understand why the city puts up cameras to catch drivers speeding, but won’t put up cameras to catch people destroying driver’s property.

  • WS Resident July 21, 2021 (12:28 pm)

    There is new technology to deter car theft/break-ins and it’s all natural and very effective.  With a few of these systems in bait cars, the criminals will definitely leave the area.  Guaranteed.  :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AidAXgq9dWc 

    • WSB July 21, 2021 (1:24 pm)

      Brilliant ad agency, whoever it was.

  • TK July 21, 2021 (12:50 pm)

    I really appreciated the camera, as a daily user of the park, and having so many times walked back to the lot to see a rash of broken windows and upset citizens, any deterrent is welcome. I park on the street now in the hopes that the criminals won’t target a car that is more out in the open. Taking down the camera without offering an alternative solution seems wrong. This whole area of southwest Seattle just feels like the wild west right now, constant break-ins, fires, homeless, speeding (like 60mph in 25’s). Doesn’t feel like help coming any time soon. I love my community, but wish we had more resources.

  • dhg July 21, 2021 (1:36 pm)

    The City should have a simple procedure of putting up signs that say “High Prowl Area. Cameras in use”.  People are then on notice if they want to park or not. 

  • kevin c July 21, 2021 (2:37 pm)

    The City & Parks codes do not allow for private citizens to put up cameras on public property, But the The problem is the voters who vote in bad City Council “Leadership” like Lisa Hurbold and approve a parks levy that has no oversight.  Also you get what you ask for when with quick political decisions to defund police without involving the citizens and law enforcement to come up with a comprehensive police reform bill/plan that will address all the issues AND keep people safe.  We are headed to a vigilante society, so be careful what you ask for. Work together to solve problems, and involve everyone. And when you legalize drugs more crime happens Seattle. Sorry for the rant that went off this specific topic. Maybe a solution is use some tax $ (not new taxes) to station a security guard at the park to deter this behavior. 

  • Lupe July 21, 2021 (3:58 pm)

    I’ve decided to stop going to Westcrest.  The open drug deals in the lot, the tents in the wooded area, the damaged garden, the men who have asked me what the hell I was doing there?!!  I’m done.  I loved going there.  That park had it all.  That place has gotten mean.  It’s gotten trashy and in my estimation, dangerous.

  • Zack July 21, 2021 (9:01 pm)

    Park employee can be prevented (nicely) from removing the items. when insisting, tell them to call the police.

  • Angry July 22, 2021 (5:49 am)

    Sign is gone too now….. Sad that we can’t watch over eachother. Maybe instead of putting so much energy and time into this argument on here regular West rest folks could work out some sorta parking lot monitor volunteer program that simply keeps someone present in the parking lot thru out the day. Just someone being present should keep most idiots from breaking into cars. Someone could stand watch for an hour or so and then someone else takes over. Just an idea, let’s hear what’s wrong with it…… GO!

  • Pessoa July 22, 2021 (10:23 am)

    It is very disheartening to read many of these comments, and the self-deception/sophistry used to justify the surreptitious, indiscriminate – passive – videotaping of private citizens on public property.  Not only are the movements of private citizens caught on video, photographs are then posted publicly, and passed along to law enforcement. Anyone who can’t discern the difference between accidentally capturing someone on video in a public space and recording with the intent to forward this type of information to law enforcement is either foolish or not being intellectually honest. More than one overly zealous individual, though, I am much more concerned that these are likely the same individuals who have no qualms about increasing societal surveillance, as rule.  Those who I call my neighbors and fellow Americans are becoming  unrecognizable.   

  • Brian S July 22, 2021 (1:05 pm)

    Wow, never heard about this guy As a West Crest dog park user, thank you Steve for your service!   

  • TennisNets July 22, 2021 (1:52 pm)

    They need cameras on the solstice tennis courts They keep destroying the nets and stealing themThat our taxpayers monies

  • WS Resident July 22, 2021 (1:58 pm)

    Pessoa, they are not taking videos of people picking their noses or scratching their butts.  They are videotaping criminals in the act of committing crimes that hurt people.  That is all that is being sent to police.  The legal system in Seattle needs community assistance because there are too many innocent law abiding citizens getting permanently injured by POS chronic offenders.  People across the USA are fed up with criminals having more rights then their victims.  And they are fed up with having to look over their shoulder to see if some wacko is coming up behind them with an ax.  When people are attacked there will be a brief mention of their injuries but then that’s the last we hear of it.  They can spend the rest of their lives suffering from the attack but we rarely hear more – our legal system is too busy trying to come up with excuses for the criminal so we can be “compassionate” and release them to attack again.  Gun sales are through the roof.  Maybe it’s because the vast majority of Americans can no longer recognize the America that used to provide law , order and safety and prioritized the rights of law abiding citizens over some POS that claims PTSD because he wasn’t breast fed as a child.  When America was lawless in the wild, wild west because they had no “police” the citizens had to handle it themselves and they did, restoring personal safety using guns and ropes.  Most Americans would rather have police than vigilantes, so maybe that’s one of the many reasons people respect and help the police.  Some people want to go back to the wild west days where there are no laws and no consequences.  They shouldn’t be surprised if vigilantes and all those guns come out – crime is destroying this country and America is approaching the boiling point. We need to help the police – not hinder them.

    • This July 22, 2021 (10:44 pm)

      ‘And they are fed up with having to look over their shoulder to see if some wacko is coming up behind them with an ax’

      How many ax attacks have there been in WS in the last year? How many resulted in injury or death?

      How many gun shots have been fired around WS in the last year? How many resulted in injury or death?

  • john206 July 22, 2021 (3:00 pm)

    Heh, vicitm blaming and ‘its the law’  and privacy concerns are all quite stupid responses above. We need cams there because of a demonstrated need. Many times demonstrated. Its not random surveillance. And the parks employee to decided to remove it should be shoved out. Use your FN brain please, ( I know tis rare in the parks department I have seen).. So lets just go ahead and put the cams back and repost  the pics on the board. Its our community, our park, does not belong not the parks idiots. 

  • Alex S. July 22, 2021 (3:31 pm)

    As the de-criminalization of highly addictive street drugs (and the de-criminalization of crime) continues to progress, property crime will get worse and worse.   Nearly half of all property crimes are committed to get drugs or money for drugs.  Watch that percentage spike upward in Seattle, Portland, SF and LA where recreational drug use is becoming an established & accepted subculture

    • KM July 22, 2021 (4:27 pm)

      Could you please share some of your sources with us?

  • stray d July 22, 2021 (3:37 pm)

    I applaud Steve’s efforts to make a safer place in his community.
    clearly the issue, once again, is pets.
    100+ billion usd  wasted per year.

    feed a person.  

  • Mr. Henry July 22, 2021 (8:32 pm)

    Agree 100%.  Time to vote the do nothing mayor and council out.No more snow flakes needed

    • WSB July 22, 2021 (8:43 pm)

      The mayor is not running for re-election, Two of the nine councilmembers are on ballots this year; the other seven, in two years.

  • Stevo July 22, 2021 (11:17 pm)

    Thanks to Tracy, and West Seattle blog, the word is getting out that we I I’re fed up and dont want to be rendered defenseless! Dori Monson of KIRO radio caught wind and interviewed me today! Perhaps the people against my camera will listen to the interview with an open mind!
    PS. There is NO city ordinance saying a private citizen cant have a camera at the park. My situation is not even addressed!
    My interview starts at minute 21..https://omny.fm/shows/the-dori-monson-show/hour-2-biden-town-hall-on-cnn

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