Here’s a story hard to believe. For the three-week period, January 24 through February 15, there were no crimes in the neighborhood, or at least none that was reported to the police. That’s the official Seattle Police map, above, showing a dearth of criminal activity for the period since our last Police Blotter posting. Usually there are plenty of little icons on the map, representing three or four car prowls, a couple of breaking-and-entering incidents, and at least a few other random criminal acts (credit-card fraud, car theft and graffiti are the most likely other infractions).
But nothing at all for the past three weeks. Based on our experience, the no-crime probability was so low that we assumed there must be a mistake. Not so, according to Mark Jamieson, public information officer for the Seattle Police. If there’s nothing on the map, it almost certainly means that there has been no police report during the period, he told us.
How is that possible? Has the weather just been too crummy for anyone to want to come down here and steal a car? Or is it that we’ve simply given up reporting the kinds of crimes we’re most likely to be involved in; in other words, anything short of murder?
To be fair, we should note that crimes that are reported utilizing the police’s on-line system do not show up on the map. However, there are not that many people using internet-based reporting; and the kinds of crimes reported from our area in the past appear to be pretty minor (theft from a car, graffiti, etc.).
If you are aware of any crime having occurred recently, we (and the police) would be interested in knowing about it, especially if you already officially reported it. That would indicate that the map system is not entirely accurate. If, on the other hand, you experienced a crime and purposefully did not report it, the reason for not doing so would also be interesting to us. Officer Jamieson points out that it is critical for the police to know where crime is happening. And as we’ve commented before, police staffing decisions are based in part on the number of criminal incidents reported in the various precincts. Underreporting can mean under-policing, if that’s a term.
Last month, when we had some actual crime to talk about, we received an email from a victim of an incident reported on our Police Blotter. Noting that “Diligence is the key to a successful neighborhood watch,” he ruefully commented that if he had done a better job of that he might not have been victimized—or, at minimum, might have been able to help the police catch the culprits. Here’s his story:
“Our garage was burgled and our car [which was inside] ransacked. The garage opens to a back alley. The main garage door had been left open and was entered between my arrival back home at 6 am and the time I discovered the intrusion at 7:45 am. They took a pair of men's skis, a snowboard and a box of misc. stuff. The only thing I can remember being in there were baseball cards, nothing of any significant value. Nothing from the car or trunk was taken.
The aggravating thing is that I'm pretty sure I saw their vehicle idling in the alley when I went out at 7:45, but thought nothing of it as it was light out and it was a nicer vehicle (late model dark sedan, possible Saab or Audi). It pulled away slowly after I appeared. Kicking myself now for not getting a better look or a plate number.
Brazen is the word to describe these people, as the skis/snowboard were inside the garage quite a ways, and they did it so late in the morning. They were also savvy enough to turn off the headlights as the car faces the main house and the headlights shining in could've alerted me.”
Consider this a word to the wise.
By the way, just to show what a crime backwater Madison Park is relative to other parts of Seattle, just look at this map showing criminal activity in the general vicinity over the past week: