Saturday, July 16, 2011

Police Blotter 7/15/11

Car break-ins on the increase

There were at least ten car prowls in the neighborhood in the three weeks since our last Police Blotter, though this number probably understates the true extent of the problem since many people do not bother to report these incidents to the police.  The thinking of the non-reporters, apparently, is that once the break-in has happened there is little likelihood that the police will be able to do anything about it.  That might be an accurate assessment, but the failure to report this kind of petty (though often costly) crime results in an understatement of the overall crime figures for our neighborhood and--potentially--less in the way of police coverage relative to other areas within this police beat.

Here is some first-person reporting, from an MPB reader, concerning one of the car break-ins that recently occurred:

"My husband and I live on McGilvra Blvd. E near Newton. At around 2:10 [on the night of July 13], we were awakened by the sound of our car alarm going off.  My husband went outside and saw that the back, street-side window of his car had been broken and his briefcase had been stolen. Nothing else was taken. There were no items of value in the briefcase, just a work file. 

As he observed the scene, he heard the sound of shattering glass and a car alarm coming from a little over a block down on McGilvra, on the other side of Newton and closer to Starbucks/Madison, in front of the another home.  Apparently it took the thieves (three  of them)  longer to break into [that homeowner's] car, so the family had time to get a description of the guys and call 911 right then and there. Apparently the SPD caught the three perps and [the car's owner] got his stolen items back, although we haven't heard about whether the police have ours as well. At 8:30 this am there was a cop driving around looking to see if any other cars had been hit."

These are the other eight other car-prowl incidents reported:

On the 1500 block of Lake Washington Boulevard E. on 6/26
At the intersection of 43rd Avenue E. and E. Howe St. on 6/27
On the 1500 block of Lake Washington Boulevard E. on 6/27
On the 3300 block of E. Ford Place on 6/29
On the 2000 block of 42nd Avenue E. on 6/30
On the 1100 block of 38th Avenue E. on 7/1
On the 600 block of Lake Washington Boulevard E. on 7/9
On the 800 block of 31st Avenue E. on 7/13.

In addition, autos were stolen from the 200 block of E. Galer St. on 7/3, from the 2500 block of Canterbury Lane E. on 7/6, and from the 3900 block of E. Garfield St. on 7/7.

There were also two burglaries reported during the period, including one on the 4th of July in which a significant amount of valuable jewelry was taken from a Washington Park home by a thief apparently knowledgeable of the house's interior.  The homeowners had left their residence at about 12:30 pm, and two SPD officers responded to an alarm at the house which occurred at about 5:30.  As reported by one of the officers, "Upon our arrival we found that the front door was open. We checked the inside of the house and were unable to find any signs of a break in.  [We] cleared the call as a false alarm."  Although the homeowners checked the house when they returned at 10:00 pm from an Independence Day celebration, nothing appeared to be amiss.  The next morning, however, they discovered they had suffered a major loss.

Quoting again from the police report: "It appears that an unknown suspect first tried to break a window on the west side of the house to gain entry.  The suspect then gained entry through the garage door. Once inside the garage, the suspect kicked a locked entry door to gain entry into the main part of the house.  When he kicked open the door it set off the alarm.  We arrived 15 minutes later to find the house empty.  It appears the suspect had a working knowledge of the jewelry location...and was able to search for the jewelry, obtain the jewelry, store the jewelry and leave before our arrival to the scene, all in 15 minutes.  I did a search for fingerprints and found no useable prints.  I believe the suspect cut his hand while trying to break out the window on the westside of the house.  I located drops of blood from the suspect on the bathroom counter.  I recovered a blood-stained mattress skirt from the bed and placed it into evidence."

According to a later report to neighbors by the homeowner, the police apparently were able to obtain DNA evidence from the blood left at the scene.  Two neighbors reportedly saw the suspect as he left the house by the front door, describing him as a black male in his 20s. According to the victim, however, the police told her that the perpetrator was "too savvy to be that young."

The second burglary took place on the 3200 block of E. Mercer St. on July 11.  In that incident, the victim returned home to discover that the back door was open and that a window to her bedroom had been pushed open.  The suspect had apparently used a bucket to stand on and then gain entry through the window.  "A few items were stolen," according to the police report.

[Solid cars on crime map above represent auto thefts and un-solid cars represent car prowls.]

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