A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods

 

Greenwood business owners, residents, ask SPD about recent surge in burglaries

February 5th, 2016 by Doree

About 40 Greenwood business owners and residents filled the back of Couth Buzzard Books Thursday night to hear Seattle Police representatives talk about the recent surge in burglaries. Couth Buzzard owner Theo Dzielak organized the meeting after his store was broken into for the second time in two months.

“Besides the expense, it’s emotional,” he said. “Some of us here tonight are business owners, some of us are residents, so we can share stories and ask questions.”

SPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Terrie Johnston listens as Greenwood residents talk about being burglarized.

SPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Terrie Johnston listens as Greenwood residents talk about being burglarized.

Seattle Police Crime Prevention Coordinator Terrie Johnston acknowledged the spike in Greenwood burglaries this year and especially in December, which had 10 of the year’s 59 non-residential burglaries. Johnston used to be the Crime Prevention Coordinator for the North Precinct, but was transferred downtown. The North Precinct finally has a new CPC, Mary Amberg, who was just hired and is still in training. (She attended the meeting but didn’t speak.)

In trying to describe the numerous burglaries and reasons for them, Johnston said there isn’t any one root cause, but many, including drugs and construction in the area. She said there’s enough variety in the modus operandi of the burglars – time of day, items taken, how brazen — that police don’t believe it’s just one or two people. And very little evidence has been left behind.

“There’s a lot of construction going on. It’s not unusual for crime to go up when there’s a lot of construction in the neighborhood,” she said, explaining that burglars may have easy access to tools left out and can use them to pry open a door, window or skylight; or ladders or scaffolding to climb onto a roof; or even chunks of concrete that can be thrown through a window, which is what happened at Couth Buzzard in November. She also said construction workers may accidentally leave a door unlocked at the end of the day, giving thieves an easy way in. And sometimes the mere presence of a lot of construction workers around a certain building means neighbors don’t pay as much attention to other people they don’t recognize at different hours.

Rachael Coyle, owner of Coyle’s Bakeshop just a few doors south of Couth Buzzard, said someone used a pickaxe to break through her back door in December. Now she’s boarded up the back door to be unusable and doesn’t anticipate ever opening it back up.

Johnston said one of the problems is that many of the mom-and-pop businesses in the neighborhood don’t have good enough locks or lighting or alarm systems. She called many businesses’ locks “vintage” and said one business that was hit even kept money in a shoe box. (Although keeping cash in a safe is not a sure deterrent, as Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe owner Chris Maykut discovered when surveillance video from a neighboring business showed thieves spending two hours struggling to get his 300-pound safe out of the business and into a car.) She also said many neighborhood businesses hit by thieves either didn’t have alarms or cameras or they weren’t working at the time of the burglaries.

Mary Harris, owner of The Fiber Gallery, talks about the recent burglary of her store.

Mary Harris, owner of The Fiber Gallery, talks about the recent burglary of her store.

Any business or resident can call SPD for a safety check of their building or home. “We’d rather work with you on the front end to prevent it than come in on the back end after,” she said.

One man said the alley behind his home near 85th and Greenwood is like an open-air drug market. “I walk in on it. There’s a line of guys selling heroin,” he said. “There’s no shame there.” Johnston said to call 911 report narcotic activity, even if it will be over by the time an officer arrives, because they could prevent future drug deals. “We need evidence and we need good witnesses and 911 calls when it’s happening,” she said. And take a hard look at the alley and see why it’s attractive to criminals – could lighting be installed or cameras or something done to open up the view to passersby.

Johnston said SPD is severely understaffed, although they are in the process of hiring 100 new officers. She said Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole was shocked when she first arrived from Boston because the cities are a similar size but Seattle had 1,000 fewer officers than Boston.

One man said his car has been prowled several times and packages stolen off his porch, but every time he calls the police “I’ve been met with apathy. It doesn’t seem like the city is doing anything, it doesn’t seem like the city is responding to this problem.”

Johnston said, “If you get bad service, there’s so many ways to follow up on a bad call taker, on officers, we have so many ways you can bring that to somebody’s attention and get that called out. We don’t want an apathetic call taker.”

Johnston said residents and businesses need to let SPD know exactly what the neighborhood needs, whether that’s increased patrols at certain hours, bike patrols, foot patrols, etc. She said Capt. Sean O’Donnell of the North Precinct is responsible for that kind of staffing. She also said she’d rather people call 911 than the non-emergency line or using online reports if there is any question that a crime is currently being committed or was recently committed.

As far as what businesses can do to try to prevent break-ins:

  • Heavy-duty locks, preferably double cylinder deadbolts.
  • Better door hardware, especially very long screws.
  • Stronger windows.
  • Better lighting, especially in dark alleys.
  • Have your address prominently displayed on the alley side as well as the front, which makes it easier for police to get to the right building.
  • Have an audible alarm; thieves are more likely to run if a loud alarm goes off.
  • Clear out any debris in alley that could be used to break a window or door, or used as a ladder to the roof, such as pallets.
  • Re-key all doors after an employee leaves your employ, even on good terms.
  • Don’t leave any business keys out where someone can grab them easily, and don’t label them so thieves know exactly which door they go to.
  • Keep a minimum amount of cash on hand; keep the cash register open with no cash in it at night, and be sure to prominently place a sign that says limited cash kept on premises.
  • Don’t have too many signs and other clutter in your windows; keep a clean line of sight for passersby to see in and notice something amiss.
  • Install a chime or bell on your doors to alert you when someone comes in.
  • Keep the number for 911 by the phone, especially if you have to dial 9 to get an outside line. “You’d be surprised how many people forget the number for 911 when there’s an emergency,” Johnston said.
  • Get to know neighboring businesses and their hours of operation so you’ll notice someone who isn’t supposed to be there.

“We still believe in block watch. Watchful neighbors are still your best protection,” Johnston said. “I want Greenwood to be tight and educated and empowered

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Reminder: Community meeting on burglaries with SPD Crime Prevention Team at Couth Buzzard Thursday night

February 3rd, 2016 by Doree

This is a reminder that Couth Buzzard Books, which has been burglarized twice in the last two months, has organized a community meeting with Seattle Police Department representatives at 7 p.m. Thursday at the bookstore at 8310 Greenwood Ave. N.

SPD’s Crime Prevention Team will talk about a recent surge of burglaries of both homes and businesses and how everyone can try to reduce crime.

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SPD: Men caught selling meth, printing fake checks at Aurora Avenue motel in Greenwood

February 2nd, 2016 by Doree

From the Seattle Police Department Blotter:

Police found a gun, knives, ammunition, laptops and printers from an Aurora Avenue motel last week after arresting two men for selling meth and running a check counterfeiting operation out of their room.

SPD Major Crimes Task Force detectives began investigating the men for narcotics dealing last week, and visited the room at the Klose-Inn Motel–located in the 9300 block of Aurora Avenue North–on several occasions to buy meth. During the investigation, detectives learned the room’s residents were also running a check fraud business.

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Detectives began tailing the suspects and, one occasion, followed one of the men to a Greenwood store, where he cashed a fake check for $1,000.

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SWAT, MCTF detectives and patrol officers served a warrant at the suspects’ motel room around 9:30 PM on January 27th and arrested a 29-year-old man for fraud, and a 20-year-old for narcotics and weapons possession.

Detectives found suspected stolen jewelry, a loaded handgun, ammunition, packaged methamphetamine and unidentified pills, a key-making machine, laptops and printers, along with knives, high-end watches, cash, identification and bank cards.

Detectives released the 29-year-old pending further investigation and booked the 20-year-old into the King County Jail. Police are also investigating him for additional crimes after he claimed to be involved in several incidents of gun violence in the greater Seattle area.

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Greenwood burglaries on the rise, community meeting with SPD Feb. 4 at Couth Buzzard

January 29th, 2016 by Doree

Couth Buzzard Books, which has been burglarized twice in the last two months, has organized a community meeting with Seattle Police Department representatives at 7 p.m. next Thursday, Feb. 4, at the bookstore at 8310 Greenwood Ave. N. SPD will talk about a recent surge in burglaries and how residents and businesses can try to reduce crime.

Couth Buzzard owner Theo Dzielak said he had not been burglarized in the five years he’s been in Greenwood until mid-November, when burglars broke the glass in his front door and stole $950. Then on Jan. 18, thieves pried open the back door with a car jack and stole about $25 in coins and some beer and wine.

“They go in very quickly and get what they can and leave very quickly,” he said. “I don’t think they’re professionals. They’re not going after places that have high levels of cash. They’re going after tiny mom and pop stores.”

Dzielak said he’s talked to numerous other businesses owners and discovered seven of them within a three- or four-block radius have been burglarized a total of 11 times in recent months.

One block away from Couth Buzzard, Chaco Canyon Organic Café owner Chris Maykut said his restaurant was burglarized last week. The thieves broke in through the back window and stole a 300-pound safe and a hand truck. Maykut said surveillance video from a nearby business showed one person standing in the alley for two hours acting as lookout.

His total loss is about $6,000, including the safe, cash, the tablet they use for a menu at the front counter, and a broken window.

“It’s kind of a blessing in disguise in some ways,” Maykut said. “Nobody got hurt. There’s no great tragedy except property loss and that’s not the end of the world. But we’ve installed some bars in the back window, we’re putting in new lighting, we’ll be putting in unbreakable windows in the back and a new alarm system.”

Chaco Canyon’s front door was heavily damaged about four months ago when someone took a screwdriver and hammer to it, but they didn’t get inside.

“They must have made a hell of a lot of noise and there’s a light right there so I don’t know how nobody saw them,” Maykut said.

According to SPD’s online Crime Dashboard, there were 59 non-residential burglaries in Greenwood in 2015. Ten of those were in December – the highest month total for the year. August had nine.

That’s up from 40 non-residential burglaries in 2014, and 39 in 2013. Those numbers do not include residential burglaries, or burglaries from secured parking areas, whether residential or non-residential.

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Non-residential burglaries in Greenwood by month for 2015. From SPD’s Crime Dashboard.

Phinney Ridge had 15 non-residential burglaries from April through December 2015 (there’s no data for the first three months of the year). Six of those burglaries were in December.

Modern Japanese Cuisine at 6108 Phinney Ave. N. in Phinney Ridge told me they were robbed of money and an iPad on Dec. 20. Violet Sweet Shoppe at 65th and Phinney Avenue was burglarized on Dec. 13 by someone smashing the glass and stealing computers. (The store has since closed, not due to the burglary.)

Burglars also recently hit St. John School at 120 N. 79th St., just a few blocks from Couth Buzzard and Chaco Canyon. On Jan. 15, school officials sent a campus alert email to families and staff that someone broke into a boy’s restroom in one of the school’s portables and removed plumbing and fixtures from the sink. According to the email, the thieves also stole a brass dedication plaque off the portables, along with equipment and fixtures from outdoor faucets.

“It’s kind of amazing in our little tiny block radius that all this has happened,” Maykut said. “It’s surprising to me because it’s such a public area.”

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Work badge and key card stolen from car on North 79th overnight

January 25th, 2016 by Doree

Lena tells us someone broke into her car on North 79th Street overnight and stole her security badge from Evergreen Hospice. It has her name and picture on it.

I can’t imagine anyone has any use for it, so it’ll probably be tossed somewhere in the neighborhood. Let me know if someone has seen it! Also missing a white key card with the word “waterside” on it.

If anyone finds it, please put a note in Comments below or email us at tips@phinneywood.com and we’ll put you in touch with Lena.

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News roundup: Greenwood author publishes 3rd book, preschool and gym open houses, car smash and grab

January 20th, 2016 by Doree

Whole Life Yoga owner Tracy Weber has released her third book in the “Downward Dog” series about yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her dog Bella, “Karma’s a Killer.”

Yoga instructor Kate Davidson is about to discover that when it comes to murder, there’s no place like om. When she agrees to teach doga—yoga for dogs—at a fundraiser for Dogma, a local animal rescue, Kate believes the only real damage will be to her reputation. But when an animal rights protest at the event leads to a suspicious fire and a drowning, a few downward-facing dogs will be the least of Kate’s problems…

The police arrest Dharma, a woman claiming to be Kate’s estranged mother, and charge her with murder. To prove Dharma’s innocence, Kate, her boyfriend Michael, and her German shepherd sidekick Bella dive deeply into the worlds of animal activism, organizational politics, and the dangerous obsessions that drive them.

Revel Athletics at 7601 Greenwood Ave. N., Suite 101, is hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. Revel opened on Nov. 30, offering barre and yoga classes. It is a sister gym to CrossFit Phinney Ridge right next door. The open house will have a free yoga class from 10-11 a.m., then mimosas and snacks from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Strokes Paint & Sip Studio at 8503 Greenwood Ave. N. appears to have closed. The space is for lease and the website has expired. An email message has not been returned.

Glenn tells us someone smashed in the rear window of a car parked right under street lights on North 72nd Street between Fremont and Linden Avenues last Saturday night. Several items were taken out of the back.

North Seattle Fives Cooperative School is hosting an open house from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday at 5515 Phinney Ave., N. across from the zoo. Prospective families wishing to enroll must first observe a class, then submit a registration form by Feb. 13.

North Seattle Fives is a pre-K program designed to meet the needs of children who are too young for kindergarten or who would benefit from another year before starting kindergarten. Class meets M, T, Th, F from 9:30 – 1:30. Monthly tuition is approx. $280 per child and parents participate in the classroom one day per week.

The gender-balanced classroom, across the street from Woodland Park Zoo, provides a stimulating and emotionally supportive environment for the children. Teacher Aaron, easy-going and inventive, brings a ukulele to circle time. Meet him and parents of the current class at the open house to learn more.

Admission is determined by a lottery in February. Priority registration is given to children turning 5 before December 31, 2016, but children turning 5 before March 31, 2017 are encouraged to apply.

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Red bike found behind American Dance Institute this weekend — may have been stolen

January 11th, 2016 by Doree

Elizabeth tells us she found a red Trek bike behind American Dance Institute on the corner of Greenwood Avenue North and North 80th Street on Saturday morning. She suspects it was stolen. Call 206-783-0755 if you recognize it.

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Do you recognize this package thief?

December 30th, 2015 by Doree

Winnie says this man stole a package from her townhouse on North 97th Street across from Gold’s Gym around 1 p.m. Wednesday.

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Security camera video showed him looking into a neighbor’s walkway to their front door just after taking this package.

If anyone has any information, call Seattle Police and reference case number 15-450111.

 

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UPDATED — Crime update: two car prowls, one attempted house break-in

December 14th, 2015 by Doree

We’re receiving quite a few crime reports these days, especially car and house prowls. Here are the latest.

Paul says he had left his house at North 92nd Street and 2nd Avenue NW for just a few hours on Saturday, and when he returned he found two window screens had been cut as someone tried to break in to his house. They didn’t get in. He always keeps his three yard gates closed; someone had left them open.

Gail tells us that on Sunday she saw a car with every window broken except the windshield on North 75th Street near Greenwood Avenue.

Andrew says someone broke into his car on North 74th Street at Dayton Avenue North Sunday night and took a shoe box with size 14 Rockports. If you’ve seen the shoes lying around, please put a note below in comments or email us at tips@phinneywood.com and we’ll put you in touch with Andrew.

Updates since our initial post this morning:

Burglars broke into Violet Sweet Shoppe at 6410 Phinney Ave. N. by breaking the window with bricks and severely damaging the front door sometime between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. today. The thieves stole two computers, a small amount of cash, and candy. Please call the store if have any info: 206-297-4441.

Peter says someone stole his wife’s bike out of their carport at NW 97th Street and 2nd Avenue NW Saturday night by cutting a 5/8-inch steel cable. It’s an orange and white retro-looking 2014 Jamis Coda Sport commuter bike.

Pete says another car was broken into on NW 83rd Street between 3rd and 6th avenues NW this weekend.

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