Sunday, September 16, 2012

August Police Blotter

But first, this cautionary tale...

A Madison Park resident living in Canterbury recently sent us an email describing a criminal incident which fortunately did not result in a break-in, but which nevertheless demonstrates both the brazenness of some criminals and the need for homeowners to be ever vigilant:

"I happened to be up at 3:45 am and walked through the house in the dark, noticed our motion sensing light on the side of the garage was on. Then I noticed a figure looking into our playroom off the garage with a small flashlight, obviously scoping the room for valuable stuff. I was amazed that the guy was not even fazed by the motion floodlights, and the area is pretty well lit to begin with. He likely knew we were home since he walked past our car on the way through the gate. My phone was in a spot where he would see me pick it up, so I banged on the window to scare him off.  Even that didn’t seem to bother him too much. He turned to look and then rather calmly walked back out the way he came in the yard. I called police and they arrived quickly, but no sign of the prowler.

This prowler seemed to fit the profile of a guy that wouldn’t hesitate to enter an open door or window even when someone is home. I know there have been at least two other recent burglaries in Canterbury while the owners were home. I hope it’s not a trend." 

Amen to that.

August burglaries (many of which could have been prevented)

As is typical for this time of year, there was a fair number (seven, actually) of burglaries reported during August (shown as star-burst icons on the map above). Several of these incidents were the result of windows and doors being left open or unsecured.

In one such incident, which occurred during the night of August 18/19, someone boldly reached through an open window at a home on the 1600 block of 39th Avenue E. and removed a laptop computer which was sitting conveniently within reach. The family was at home and sleeping at the time of the incident, and it does not appear that the house was entered by the suspect.

Sometime during the night of August 2/3, while a family on the 3700 block of E. Prospect St. was at home and sleeping, someone entered the house and left it without disturbing the sleepers. The next morning it was discovered that the back patio door of the residence was wide open, but a search of the house turned up nothing missing. There was no evidence of a forced entry, but the victims stated to police that they couldn't remember whether they had bothered to secure either their patio door or their front door when they retired for the night. During the day, when one of the victims went to get her wallet out of her purse, she discovered that the wallet (with its cash, driver license, house key, and multiple credit cards) was missing.

Also on August 2, someone perhaps known to the victim entered her residence through an entry point (unspecified in the police report) that the victim had left open.  She discovered that there had been an intrusion when she discovered an unknown key on her interior stairs and then investigated to see if there had been anything stolen from the home.  Her social security card and a check from her checkbook were both missing. She told police she was suspicious of a person she had recently met who had recently been evicted from his condo and had later left several notes for her on her door.  Police contacted the suspect, who denied any involvement.  The suspect admitted that he had gone to the victim's house and had perceived that the door had been left unlocked but had not entered the premises.  The police officer told the suspect that the victim "did not want to have any more contact with him and he stated that he understood."

Sometime between August 27 and 28, a resident of the 1200 block of 42nd Avenue E. was the victim of the theft of her computer's hard drive from the detached den of her home.  In spite of the fact that she had had "a number" of break-ins in her garage and den area over the previous couple of months, she had not bothered to lock to the door of her den, and there was no evidence of a forced entry.

Another break-in occurred on August 29.  A condo owner on the 2300 block of 43rd Avenue. E. reported that his storage unit had been rifled and multiple items stolen.  He said that the condo doorway was probably left ajar and that the unknown suspect had probably entered through the door and gained entry to the unlocked storage area, where the victim's unlocked storage locker was located.  Later that day, the victim reported that a neighbor had called him to say that some of the victim's papers and one of his bicycles had been dumped onto her property. Although he recovered these items, his stolen Raleigh bike was not found.

One burglary, however, probably didn't involve an unsecured door or window.  On August 15, an apartment dweller on the 1900 block of 42nd Avenue E. reported to police that sometime between July 17 and the date of her report someone had gained entry to her residence and stolen a drawstring bag that contained valuable jewelry.  Police, however, found no evidence of a forced entry, and the victim reported that no one had a key to the unit other than she and her daughter.  The police report noted key bumping as a possible explanation for how the apartment may have been entered (though there was no direct evidence in this case that this is what happened). It was a new term to us, so we Googled it and got an explanation from Wikipedia.  Also known as lock bumping, the technique involves the creation and use of a bump key which works as a kind of master key for all locks of a similar type.  This is perfectly legal when used by locksmiths to disassemble a lock for which they do not have the exact key, but is obviously criminal when used to gain unauthorized entry to properties.

Finally, here's another cautionary tale, as provided by the police report of an incident that occurred on the 400 block of 39th Avenue E. on the night of August 17/18:

Sometime during the prior night, the suspect(s) gained entry to the victim's vehicle...parked in the driveway on the South side of the home. The suspect(s) located the garage door opener inside of this vehicle and used it to open the garage. The garage door is also on the South side of the home. Once inside the garage, the suspect(s) opened and went through some storage closets. It does not appear anything was taken from the closets or garage.Parked in the garage was the victim's [redacted] vehicle. The key to this vehicle was left in the dashboard/ignition and the suspect(s) took the key. The suspect(s) took the garage door opener and key to the vehicle in the garage. It does not appear anything else was taken during the burglary/car prowl. Victim and his family were home and asleep during the burglary. The suspect(s) did not gain entry to the home. The suspect(s) only entered the garage, which is attached to the home.

Other August criminal activity

In addition to the car break-in/garage break-in incident above, there were five car prowls reported during August.  For some reason there was a three-week period with no such criminal activity reported.  But beginning on August 21 that all changed, with two reports about incidents that night (one on the 2500 block of Canterbury Lane E., and one on the 2300 block of 42nd Avenue E.).  A third incident occurred on the 3800 block of E. Crockett St. on August 26, followed by a car prowl on the 4100 block of E. Highland Dr. on August 29 and a similar break-in on the 800 block of 36th Avenue E. the following day.

Two cars were stolen from the neighborhood in August (one on the 2400 block of 41st Avenue E. on August 20 and one of the 600 block of 36th Avenue E. on August 30).  In addition there were multiple cases of theft (indicated by dollar-bill icons on the map above), as well as one incident of mail theft (in Broadmoor) and a case of credit-card fraud at a business on E. Madison St.

Perhaps when the weather changes back to that typical for Seattle at this time of year, criminal activity will decline in Madison Park.  But in the meantime (and thereafter), remember the watchword: vigilance.


  1. People, this isn't 1952. Lock your doors, don't leave keys in cars (even in garages), etc. As the economy continues to suffer and income inequality grows, crime is only going to get worse.

  2. Thank you for writing such a detailed post about all the recent crime activity. It's very helpful for community residents to have a source of news and information about these matters.


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