We’ve received several emails over the last couple of weeks from residents about burglaries in Greenwood-Phinney. Seattle Police tell us that keeping your eyes open to report anything suspicious can help catch criminals before they have a chance to commit a crime.
Det. Jeff Kappel with the Seattle Police Department told us that many criminals are caught as the result of neighbors calling 911 to report someone who’s acting suspiciously. Just today, someone reported a suspicious man knocking on numerous doors around Greenwood Avenue North and North 41st Street on the line between Phinney and Fremont, then saw him walk to the back of a house.
Officers set up containment around the area and searched for a white male in his 40s, wearing camouflage pants, sandals with socks, a green and blue horizontal striped jacket, with long brown hair in a ponytail, and a wallet on a chain.
Det. Kappel said the man could be casing houses, or he could be legitimately looking for someone. But, he said reporting suspicious people to SPD leads to a large number of them either being arrested for a crime, or for having an outstanding warrant for something else. And, he said close-knit communities and those with Block Watches that make it clear they will call SPD often, can keep criminals from coming here in the first place.
“What looks suspicious often is,” Det. Kappel said. “Even if we don’t catch the guy committing any crime, if he’s on your property without your consent, it’s a crime.”
As for whether or not burglaries are increasing in certain areas, Det. Kappel said it’s not easy to track on a monthly basis.
“If they see an uptick, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” he said. “You can have three more this month, but then next month it drops six.”
So, here are recent burglaries reported to us:
Homeowners on 1st Avenuw NW and NW 90th Street reported they were home when someone broke a window about 5 a.m. on May 15. The thief stole a “small electronic item,” but got away.
A neighbor on Evanston Avenue North between 90th and 92nd reported on May 14 that four houses on the same street had been robbed in the same week.
The burglar(s) enter (usually during the day) through doors or windows that they find to be unlocked, or they break glass so they can reach in and open doors. The items they’ve taken seem to be jewelry and any loose change that’s visible. In my house (where there’s no jewelry), they took a Wii player, some Wii games (although not all of them–they’re choosy!), an electric guitar, and a Nintendo DS player. I think they enter houses through unlocked doors or windows (or break small windows to unlock doors, if it’s easy to do so) that seem to be unoccupied because there is no car in the driveway. Then they run through the house, open drawers and cabinets, and grab stuff that they either they want themselves (or think is cool) or they want to sell at pawn shops. They seem like unprofessionals to me–maybe teenage kids? (This is just a guess.)
Also, NONE of the large electronics in the houses (computers, televisions) were taken. It seems like the only stuff they take is smaller stuff they can easily carry out.
In any case, keep your doors and windows locked at all times, even during the day, and even when you’re home.
Two neighbors emailed us about two breaks-ins and one attempted break-in between Greenwood Avenue North and 1st Avenue NW and NW 77th and 78th streets.
Apparently the guys that case the houses have been dressed as utility workers with vests and hard hats and then look into back yards to case houses. The cops stated that they are looking for gold, silver and identity theft items, ie social sec numbers, checks, credit card statements etc. 2 weeks ago we had some magazine scam people coming thru as well as 2 guys with a dog walking up to everyone’s doors presumably to see if the houses had dogs in them. The police want to be called if anyone sees anything suspicious. Let your neighbors know to be vigilant and keep their eyes open while walking around, take pictures of suspicious people and call the cops at the drop of a hat.
And a Phinney woman reported that a criminal listed as one of Washington’s Most Wanted broke into her home last month after coming to her door earlier with a fake story of a missing cat. She said the man immediately sold 40 of her stolen DVDs on the day of the robbery.
Best guess is that he goes up to people’s houses and knocks – if someone answers, he makes up a story (for me, it was about a lost cat). If no one answers, he goes around to find a door or window to break in. I apparently deterred him once (we talked on my stairs), but he came back and got through a basement window. The police say he’s not a confrontational guy; if someone sees him, don’t confront him, but call 911.
A few years back, I had a security cop walk around my house with me, and these tips might be worth sharing to the community as well: cover your basement windows with fabric or something else, so burglars can’t see what’s inside. And make sure they lock really well, or are otherwise secured. With a kick, the burglar at my house busted through the old latch and a screw that was supposedly keeping the window secure. He didn’t break any glass. (I now have 2x4s across all my basement windows.) Also, remove anything around the perimeter of your property that could be used for impromptu leverage (like gardening tools).
Thanks to our favorite scanner-hound Silver for continuous updates on this afternoon’s possible burglary suspect! And thank you to the many anonymous emailers about the break-ins.