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.
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.
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:
A 30-year-old burglar was injured Sunday after a Phinney Ridge man caught him breaking into his home and proceeded to beat him about the head with his fists and a pair of garden shears.
The resident called 911 around 3:30 PM after he saw the burglar pull up on his street in the 6200 block of 4th Ave NW in a Toyota, force his way into the victim’s garage, and then make a beeline for his home.
As the victim was on the phone with 911 dispatchers he heard the suspect knocking on his front door, followed by the sound of glass breaking.
The resident stayed on the phone with dispatchers as he went to his front door and walked outside to look for the suspect. When he didn’t find him, he turned back around, walked into his home, and found the suspect in his kitchen, holding a pair of garden shears.
The victim leapt at the suspect, snatched the shears from his hands, and began beating the burglar over the head with the tool and his fists as he chased him out the back door of the home.
As the homeowner rushed after the burglar, the suspect jumped on the victim’s girlfriend’s bike, which he had removed from the garage.
The suspect ignored the victim’s orders to get off the bike, and instead rode away down the street.
Officers caught up to the suspect four blocks away and took him into custody.
The victim told police he believed he had injured his hand during the incident–presumably from striking the suspect in the head–but did not require treatment at the scene.
The suspect complained of head injuries and was treated at the scene by medics before officers booked him into the King County Jail for investigation of burglary.
Seattle Police are searching for leads on an armed robber who has been targeting coffee stands and sandwich shops in several North Seattle neighborhoods, including the Subway at 10406 Greenwood Ave. N. on April 20.
Detectives are looking for leads that could help identify an armed robber, who’s been targeting restaurants and coffee shops in Queen Anne, Wedgwood, Ravenna, Maple Leaf, and Greenwood over the last three months.
The masked suspect has walked into seven different businesses—sometimes just as staff are closing up shop—and demanded money from employees while holding them at gunpoint.
Detectives believe the suspect is a white male, 18-25 years old, between 5’8 and 6’0.
Witnesses have reported seeing the man arrive at or flee from the scene of several robberies in a noticeably dirty dark green minivan. equipped with a rooftop luggage rack.
If you recognize the suspect or have any information about the case, please contact detectives at (206) 684-5535.
Here’s video of the suspect robbing the Greenwood Subway:
Neighbors’ concerns that a Greenwood apartment had become a hub for crime led Seattle police to arrest a suspected heroin and meth dealer and seize a police-grade ballistic vest Wednesday night.
SPD Narcotics detectives began investigating the 49-year-old woman earlier this year after receiving complaints about people constantly coming and going from her apartment in the 11700 block of Greenwood Ave North. Neighbors told police they believed the woman was involved in drug dealing and trafficking stolen property, and detectives soon learned she has also been the cause of numerous 911 calls and police responses in the Greenwood area.
Detectives were able to buy methamphetamine and heroin from the woman on separate occasions and, on April 15th, obtained a warrant to search her home for other signs of drug dealing.
North Precinct officers served a warrant at the home around 10:30 PM and arrested the 49-year-old woman. Officers found a bulletproof vest and 4.6 grams of heroin inside the residence, along with three digital scales, a crack pipe, and baggies. Officers also found it suspicious that the woman was keeping several disassembled bicycles in the balcony of her small, cluttered apartment, and informed the woman they would be checking the bike’s serial numbers to see if they were stolen.
Officers booked the woman into the King County Jail for delivery of narcotics and possession with intent to deliver.
After failing to break in to a Crown Hill marijuana shop this morning, a 19-year-old burglar ditched his shirt and led police on a lengthy chase through the neighborhood.
A group of neighbors called police around 12:30 AM after they heard a repetitive hammering sound coming from the pot shop at NW 85th Street and 3rd Avenue NW.
The hammering sound turned out to be a masked man, who was trying to pry out the window of the store with a crowbar. When he noticed neighbors watching him, he took off running.
Police arrived and began searching for the man, and Officer Enoch Lee quickly spotted the suspect—now unmasked—standing near a van on 87th and 17th NW. When the suspect saw Officer Lee, he took off running into the neighborhood.
Over the next 90 minutes, the man hopped fences and hid in yards as police—joined by K9s Ziva and Jaeger, and their handlers Officers Mark Wong and Rory Smith—pursued him.
Finally, the suspect—now shirtless—emerged near NW 83rd Street and 12th Avenue NW, where he was arrested by Officer Brandon Craig.
Police booked the 19-year-old man into the King County Jail for investigation of burglary, and seized his van, which had tow hitch, and rope attached, which he may have used to rip down the pot shop’s back gate.
This morning Seattle Police received information that the 17-year-old male suspect was going to be boarding a plane at Seatac. At our request Port of Seattle Police took the suspect into custody at the airport.
There are no suspects outstanding in this case, which remains an active and on-going homicide investigation.
There are no additional details available at this time.
Update Saturday 9 a.m.:KING, KIRO and Q13 are naming a 17-year-old suspect in the case, citing unnamed police sources.
Update 7:05 p.m.: I just spoke with Det. Jeff Kappel of SPD, who confirmed that detectives were on scene this afternoon assisting the SWAT team, as part of the investigation of Sunday’s murder of David Peterson. However, Det. Kappel couldn’t provide any more information, saying that SPD never discusses search warrants because they are part of ongoing investigations.
Earlier: Several PhinneyWood readers have emailed us about a huge police and SWAT team presence in Greenwood around the 9000 block of 4th Avenue NW this afternoon. According to KING 5, police served a search warrant at a house in connection with Sunday night’s murder of 54-year-old David Peterson near Fred Meyer and Bartell Drugs. They collected several bags of evidence.
Seattle Police Crime Prevention Coordinator Terrie Johnston passed along a bunch of safety tips to keep in mind this time of year, from protecting your property and packages to keeping yourself self.
Travel light: take only what you need when you are out. Leave the heavy purse behind and clean out your wallet of unneeded credit cards, medical cards, etc.
Dress the part: It’s darker now without our sunny Seattle skies, so make sure you can be seen by motorists. Are your shoes comfortable enough to allow you to move, kick, run if you had to? Long billowing scarves, umbrellas, certain kinds of hats can reduce the ability to see around you, or might give a mugger something by which to grab you. Leave the bling behind or under layers of clothing if you’ll be out walking around much.
Cell phones: “apple picking” is what some are calling the grabbing of iphones and other electronic devices. You may be asked by a stranger for the time, or if they can borrow your phone. Then boom, in a blink of an eye, they’re off and away with your device. While cell phones are a helpful safety device, street robbers love them, so don’t flash them around. Be mindful when using them in public places.
“What’s your location?” means being able to relay your location such as house number, business or street names, hundred block, intersections, landmarks, or mile markers. Make it a habit to know your location! This is key when making calls to 9-1-1. Seconds matter in emergencies. Help us get to you or the incident quicker. Stay on the line with the call taker until instructed to hang up.
If you will be out of town, please let your trusted neighbors know. Encourage them to keep an extra watch out for your home and let them know you want them to call 9-1-1 if something is suspicious. Enlist their help with picking up newspapers, checking for oversized mail, packages, and those pesky flyers left on doorknobs. On our block, we pick up each others’ parcels that have been left on a porch for safekeeping. You want to make your home look occupied (lights and radio on timers; have someone park in your driveway, bring in your garbage can/recycling bins, etc.) Getting a house sitter can be helpful. Watchful neighbors truly are your best alarm!
Car prowls: Thieves target all makes and models of vehicles looking for GPS devices, cellular phones, cameras, purses, garbage remotes, jackets. I know some parents who keep their kids’ holiday gifts in the trunk. Not good! Also, I’ve read a few police reports where people pack up their car the night before heading out on a trip, only to find the car was prowled over night. Leave your car empty; disable internal trunk releases and be consistent with any theft-deterrent device like the “club” or audible alarm.
Warming up the car: Vehicles left running and unattended while the heater and defroster kick in may be just the opportunity the auto thief needed.
Seattle Police have released a photo of a man suspected of sexually assaulting a woman in Crown Hill last week.
From the SPD Blotter:
On July 28th, just shortly after 3:00 p.m., officers responded to the 1700 block of NW 85th to investigate a stranger rape. The victim stated that a male she had just met at a nearby bus stop had followed her home and sexually assaulted her outside her apartment complex.
The suspect is described as a black male, 25-30 years old, unknown height, medium build, slight goatee, wearing a jacket that was partially orange.
The victim was transported to Harborview Medical Center. Area search for suspect was negative.
Anyone with information about this suspect or his whereabouts is asked to call the Sexual Assault unit at 206-684-5575.
The investigation continues.
Photo of a man suspected in the sexual assault of a woman outside her Crown Hill apartment Sunday afternoon. (Courtesy of Seattle Police Department)
Seattle police say a man was shot early this morning on the edge of Greenwood at Aurora Avenue North and North 80th Street. From the SPD Blotter:
A man was shot this morning as he and his brother were crossing Aurora Av N. Just shortly before 2:00 a.m. a man was shot in the torso by an unknown suspect as the victim and his brother both in their 20′s were crossing Aurora Av N west bound at N. 80th St. Apparently a vehicle with multiple occupants was driving by. The vehicle stopped and it’s occupants and the two brothers got into a verbal altercation.
The vehicle continued on but then circled back and an occupant of the vehicle fired shots at the two brothers, striking the victim once in the torso area. The other victim was not injured. The vehicle fled the scene in an unknown direction. Seattle Fire responded and transported the victim to HMC with serious injuries.
According to officers on scene, the other brother/victim was severely intoxicated and could not provide a suspect description.
This is an active an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 9-1-1. Anonymous tips are welcome.