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

 

Burglar breaks into Phinney Ridge home by removing portable air conditioner from window

September 2nd, 2016 by Doree

David tells us someone broke into his home near NW 73rd Street and 3rd Avenue NW on Thursday afternoon by removing a portable air conditioner from a window, even though that window is about six feet off the ground.

He says the burglar didn’t take much, but made quite a mess looking for valuables.

So, just a reminder that windows with portable air conditioners will not necessarily keep burglars out.

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KOMO: Burglar steals $20,000 from Baranof’s safe

August 30th, 2016 by Doree

KOMO 4 reports that Baranof Bar & Grill at 8549 Greenwood Ave. N. was burglarized on Aug. 14 by a man who broke into the office, pried open the safe and stole $20,000 while the restaurant was open.

Read the full story here, and see surveillance pictures of the thief, who they are trying to identify.

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SPD arrests two men for early morning burglary in Phinney Ridge

June 16th, 2016 by Doree

From the SPD Blotter:

Two men are in custody following an early morning burglary on Phinney Ridge.

Shortly after 3:00 am this morning, neighbors in the 6500 block of 1st Avenue NW called 911 and reported hearing shattering glass and a possible burglary at an unoccupied home. Patrol officers and a K-9 Officer Mark Wong and Ziva arrived quickly and began checking the block.

Two men took off running from the home and were quickly arrested after a brief foot chase.

Upon further inspection officers discovered a broken basement window where the suspects had entered the burglarized house.

Police found one of the suspects was carrying a large quantity of prescription pills in his backpack, as well as probable stolen items. Detectives interviewed the suspects before the two men, ages 23 and 24, were booked into the King County Jail for burglary. The suspect with the pills could also face felony drug charges.

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Video surveillance shows man breaking office window at American Dance Institute

June 10th, 2016 by Doree

American Dance Institute at 8001 Greenwood Ave. N. recently suffered its fourth break-in or attempted break-in in three months. It happened about 6 a.m. on Saturday, May 20, when someone entered through the back alley and broke the window in the office door. Owner Elizabeth Chayer said video surveillance showed the man breaking the window and then fleeing without entering.

She also obtained surveillance video from a nearby building that gives a clearer picture of the man.

Does anyone recognize him?

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Angry Beaver Hit by Burglars Over the Weekend

April 11th, 2016 by Robin Donovan

The Angry Beaver receives another blow after the Greenwood gas explosion. This time, thieves struck the bar over the weekend, stealing beer, liquor and electronic equipment. More details reported by King 5.Angry-Beaver-mural-resized

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Thief caught on camera burglarizing Park Public House while alarm blares

March 7th, 2016 by Doree

The Park Public House at 6114 Phinney Avenue North was burglarized on Feb. 24, with the thief caught on camera breaking open the cash register while the alarm blared.

The bar’s owners sent us this photo of the burglar from their security cameras. The man caused more than $1,000 in damage.

ParkPublicHouse-burglary-March2016

You can see KIRO 7’s story below, with security camera video.

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Phinney Ridge neighbors warn about potential burglary scammer

February 12th, 2016 by Doree

Update: Apparently the man may have been an employee of ADT security. A worried neighbor called ADT and they confirmed they sent sales people to our neighborhood after hearing about our rash of burglaries.

Earlier: Several neighbors in Phinney Ridge say a suspicious man was wandering the neighborhood around North/NW 60th Street yesterday evening, knocking on doors and asking about homeowners’ alarm systems. The man told various people he was with ADT, Homestead Security or that he was selling fire insurance,  but he did not have any company identification. Some neighbors called 911.

In a long neighborhood email chain, one resident said the man knocked aggressively on their door for a long time. Others said the man seemed very intent on asking what neighbors did to protect themselves and whether they had alarms, and had a very vague sales pitch.

Did anyone else see this man?

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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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SPD: Phinney resident injures burglar by hitting him in the head with fists and garden shears

February 4th, 2016 by Doree

From the SPD Blotter:

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.

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