Queen Anne burglaries and a reminder from SPD on crime prevention

Back in late October, a North Queen Anne reader’s home was not only burglarized, but she also came face-to-face with the burglar through her glass door. She was home alone at 7:15pm when her dog became agitated – turns out it was a burglar trying to open the door, which was locked. He walked away calmly, and she called 911.

This scary incident was magnified by three other burglaries at neighboring homes in the same time period. The reader who saw the burglar got a good look at him, thanks to a security light he triggered: a black male, possibly older,  with knit hat and scarf pulled up to his nose.

SPD responded to the burglary on North Queen Anne, and a K-9 unit tracked the burglar to the bus stop at Rodgers Park, where he likely left the neighborhood. The map below shows all burglaries on Queen Anne since mid-October (numbers indicate multiple burglaries in close proximity):

Burglaries Mid-Oct to Nov

While burglaries can’t always be prevented, these incidents are a sobering reminder of the upcoming holiday season, which is prime time for many criminals. Our Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention Coordinator has sent the following tips to help people and property safe during the holidays:

SPD Burglary Prevention:

Shipped packages and money/gift cards in the mail are popular targets for thieves. Being amongst crowds in shopping malls, downtown streets, the train station or airport provide would-be pickpockets a target-rich environment. Door-to-door solicitors may pick this time of year to collect for charities and yet we wonder if they are legitimate.

Travel light:  take only what you need when you are out.  Leave the heavy purse behind and clean out your wallet of unneeded credit cards, medical cards, etc.

Dress the part:  It feels darker now without our sunny Seattle skies, so make sure you can be seen by motorists. Are your shoes comfortable enough to allow you to move, kick, run if you had to. Long billowing scarves, umbrellas, certain kinds of hats can reduce the ability to see around you, or might give a mugger something by which to grab you. Leave the bling behind or under layers of clothing if you’ll be out walking around much.

Cell phones: “apple picking” is what some are calling the grabbing of iPhones and other electronic devices.  You may be asked by a stranger for the time, or if they can borrow your phone. Then boom, in a blink of an eye, they’re off and away with your device. While cell phones are a helpful safety device, street robbers love them so don’t flash them around. Be mindful when using them in public places.

What’s your location?” means being able to relay your location such as house number, business or street names, hundred block; intersections, landmarks, or mile markers. Make it a habit to know your location!  This is key when making calls to 9-1-1. Seconds matter in emergencies, help us get to you or the incident quicker. Stay on the line with the call taker until instructed to hang up.

If you will be out of town: please let your trusted neighbors know. Encourage them to keep an extra watch out for your home and let them know you want them to call 9-1-1 if something is suspicious. Enlist their help with picking up newspapers, checking for oversized mail, packages and those pesky flyers left on doorknobs. On our block, we pick up each others’ parcels that have been left on a porch for safekeeping. You want to make your home look occupied (lights and radio on timers; have someone park in your driveway, bring in your garbage can/recycling bins, etc.). Getting a house sitter can be helpful.  Watchful neighbors truly are your best alarm!

Car prowls:  Thieves target all makes and models of vehicles looking for GPS devices; cellular phones; cameras; purses; garbage remotes; jackets. I know some parents who keep their kids’ holiday gifts in the trunk. Not good! Also, I’ve read a few police reports where people pack up their car the night before heading out on a trip, only to find the car was prowled over night. Leave your car empty; disable internal trunk releases and be consistent with any theft-deterrent device like the “club” or audible alarm.

Warming up the car: Vehicles left running and unattended while the heater and defroster kick in may be just the opportunity the auto thief needed.

Stay safe during the holidays, as well as the rest of the year. Follow the above tips, and call 911 to report suspicious activity or crimes in progress.



Learn more about Seattle’s Block Watch program at Monday’s QACC Public Safety Meeting

QA Crime WatchHave you ever wondered how to start a Block Watch program for your little neck of the Queen Anne woods? It’s pretty straightforward and easy to do, and at tomorrow’s Queen Anne Community Council Public Safety Meeting, you can learn all about it from Terrie Johnston , our SPD West Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator.

The QACC Public Safety Committee Meeting is tomorrow, Monday, June 22nd from 7pm-8pm at Queen Anne Manor (100 Crockett St).

The QACC is also requesting that current Queen Anne Block Watch captains, as well as those interested in becoming a Block Watch captain, attend this meeting. Having Block Watch captains at the meeting will help provide a forum for Block Watch captains and members to meet, learn from each other, and answer prospective Block Watch captains’ and members’ questions.

Here’s tomorrow’s agenda:

  • 7:00 – Sign-in and introductions to include any Block Watch captains present.
  • 7:05  – Ms. Johnston on the city’s Block Watch program and efforts to increase our crime prevention posture.
  • 7:30  – Q&A with attending members.
  • 8:00  – Adjourn

All are welcome to attend to learn more about crime prevention via the Block Watch program.

Tips from SPD on staying safe and keeping Queen Anne crime stats low this holiday season

QA Crime WatchWe’ve had several readers report that they’ve had packages either stolen or tampered with in the past few weeks. Sadly, the holiday season is not all cheer. It’s also a prime time for thieves.

Our West Precinct SPD Crime Prevention Coordinator, Terri Johnston, sent us the tips below on keeping your home safe from burglars and packages safe from theft. If you’re interested in setting up a Block Watch for your neighbors, see SPD’s Block Watch site, it explains what it entails and how to get one up and running:

Locks:  Please use the locks/ latches you have.  Many of the burglaries that occurred this past month were made through unlocked windows.  Some had screens that the burglar simply removed to then gain entry.   Even if you are going to be gone just a short time, lock up!

Exterior doors should be secured with a dead-bolt lock with at least a 1”throw. The doors should be strong enough to withstand excessive force. The door’s hardware such as strike plates and frames need to be anchored to the homes main construction.  We recommend a wide-angle peephole on the main entrance door.

Windows:  Sliding doors/windows can be fortified with a snug-fitting dowel placed in the lower track.   Ensure windows are closed and locked prior to leaving home? If your valuables are visible from the sidewalk, consider closing the blinds when you are away.

Shrubbery:  Burglars love secluded backyards.  Keep your shrubs and trees trimmed to allow for greatest visibility.  Consider motion-sensitive lighting for side and rear areas of your home.

Door Answering:  Since many burglars knock on doors to ascertain whether anyone’s home, it is imperative you always answer the door.  By this I MEAN, talk through the door, don’t open it!

Home alone?  Bluff!  Yell out, “Honey, I’ll get it!”  or whatever words you can use that might indicate there are others in the house.  Then, by talking through the door, you can say you’re on a conference call; you are contagious; or your pet snakes are out of their tanks, etc.  Model this for your kids.  They may be home alone and find themselves in this situation.  It is not rude to talk through the door and it may save yourself a face-to-face encounter with a burglar.

Mail Theft:  Already the reports of stolen packages from porches and multi-family dwellings are being made.  I researched alternatives to home delivery of my packages and found there are many ways to minimize this popular crime.  It is possible to track delivery of your pkg. which may allow being home then.  Can you arrange for the package to be sent to another location, such as a FedEx office or perhaps your workplace?  Could you tip off a trusted neighbor to sign for you, should a package come when you are away?  Talk to your neighbors and see if they’d be willing to store the package inside their home until you get back or instruct them to place it unseen on the side or back.

9-1-1:  Cannot stress enough the importance of reporting all suspicious activity to 9-1-1.  It’s okay if what you are reporting turns out to be nothing. You don’t know what is prevented by getting the patrol car into the neighborhood.   9-1-1 is not just for emergencies, it is for all police reporting and that includes suspicious activity. This is how many of our burglars and car prowlers are caught.

Block Watch:  Did you know that statistics show one is more likely to call 9-1-1 to help a neighbor out, if they know that neighbor’s name?  Even though Block Watch was created to help reduce burglaries, knowing your neighbors and agreeing to watch out for them just makes sense.  Natural emergencies, power outages, landslides, etc. are additional reasons we need to stay together as a neighborhood. We may have to wait for first responders to get to our ‘neck of the woods’ and our neighbors may be our salvation.

Inventory Lists:  itemizing your valuables and noting serial numbers; model and/or photos of jewelry, art, bikes, etc. is helpful to follow-up detectives.  Stolen property is often recovered without a chance of returning to the rightful owner.

Stay safe, call 911 if you see suspicious activity or to report a crime in progress, and report all crimes both big and small. For crimes such as car prowls and property theft under $500,  you can report them via the SPD Online Reporting tool. Watch out for your neighbors and let us know if a crime occurs that the neighborhood needs to know about!

Register now for Seattle’s Night Out Against Crime on August 6th & meet your neighbors

Every year Seattle communities and neighborhoods in can participate in Seattle’s Night Out Against Crime. This year, Night Out is Tuesday, August 6th, so it’s just under 2 weeks away. And, if you’re participating, let us know– we’d love to get photos of your block party!

Seattle Night OutRegister your block’s Night Out to get the street closed for the event, and get on the map so your neighbors know where they can go for Seattle Night Out. It’s a great community-building event, a chance to meet or reconnect with your neighbors, and help prevent crime.

Why do it? Well, if you’re like me, you live on a block that has been targeted by car prowlers, burglars, and vandals in the past few months. Just yesterday, a reader wrote in to report the following car crimes that took place on Monday night:

“Several cars on Boston between 1st Ave W and 2nd Ave W were broken into last night (doors were shimmied open between front and back passenger door on driver’s side) – in a way that didn’t set off anyone’s car alarm.  We know of at least 3, and probably more). Mine was in the driveway parked next to my house. Others were on the street.”

This type of activity is happening all too frequently, and summer is prime season for crime and shady solicitors. Use Night Out to meet your neighbors and keep an eye out for each other. If you haven’t been a victim, consider yourself lucky and get together to celebrate!

Regardless, get together with your neighbors and have a great time! And, to help prevent summer crime, here are some tips from SPD:

Summer Time Safety Tips from SPD

  • Anytime you are out of direct sight of a door or window, it should be shut and locked. This includes during the day when you are working in the yard and at night. Before you go to bed, take a quick tour through the house and make sure all doors and windows are closed and latched.
  • Remember most burglaries occur during the day. Report any suspicious person or strangers in your neighborhood to 9-1-1.
  • Lighting can be a significant factor in discouraging night-time prowling. Turn on your front, side, and back outdoor lights at dusk, and leave them on throughout the night. Having lights on can also help neighbors see what is going on, and possibly get a suspect description.
  • Do not let strangers into your house. If anyone comes to your home and asks to use the telephone, you can offer to make the call for them; however, you should not let them in to do this for themselves.
  • Remind all family members, including children, that they should not be sharing information about family vacations or trips with others.
  • If you are going to be gone from your home overnight, ask one of the neighbors you know to watch your house for you. Offer to do the same for them when they are away.
  • To prevent secure parking garage break-ins, make sure you watch the gate/door close behind you. Never leave the garage until the gate/door is completely closed.
  • When you enter into the apartment complex through the front door, make sure the door is locked and secure behind you. This removes the easy access to the parking garage by unknown person(s).
  • Do not allow persons to walk through the door with you. Residents should have their own key.

Share this information with all family members and encourage them to practice these tips 24 hours a day, not just when we hear about something happening in the neighborhood where we live.

It’s peak season for door-to-door sellers – here’s what you need to know from SPD

No SolicitorsWe’ve had several readers write us about some shady door-to-door magazine salespeople in the past 2 weeks, and my own block has been the victim of a suspicious person claiming to sell magazines. Since I live on the block, I can attest that the latter report was verified by a slew of neighbors, one witnessing the solicitor walking up a driveway in between houses (she called 911, which is the correct thing to do).

Reports of illegal solicitors to SPD have gone up in both Queen Anne and Magnolia recently, as it’s just that time of year. Francisco Tello, SPD Crime Prevention Program Coordinator East and West Precinct, sent the following information, and noted that there are no licensed door to door magazine sales in the City of Seattle.

Here are the tips from SPD:

This is the peak time of year for door-to-door sales, including those using traveling sales crews.  There are many legitimate companies in this industry with professionally trained salespeople, selling between the hours of 8:00am and 9:00pm, and a long history of law-abiding customer service.  There are, however, less reputable companies in this business willing to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals who trust people knocking at their door.  Sometimes residents forget to practice good personal safety.

Seattle Police officers respond to calls from citizens concerned about door-to-door salespeople.  The results have ranged from the officers checking identification and sending the seller to the City of Seattle Revenue & Consumer Affairs office for their business license, to arrests of individuals posing as residential sellers, but wanted on warrants. There have also been arrests for aggressive behavior, threats made against the resident, burglaries, and assaults.

Homeowners may consider posting a sign indicating “No agents,” “No peddlers,” or “No Solicitors.”  In Seattle, it is unlawful for any residential seller to attempt to gain admittance for the purpose of selling at any residence displaying one of these signs.

With these facts in mind, what should you do when a person knocks at your door?

BEFORE OPENING YOUR DOOR: LOOK FOR PROPER IDENTIFICATION.  Acknowledge the knock since ignoring it may lead to an attempted burglary.  It is preferable to speak to strangers through your door.  In Seattle, all door-to-door sellers must display the residential sales identification which includes the seller’s photograph on their outer clothing.  The residential sales agent’s license has the name of the licensee as well as the agent.  It shall be endorsed with the type of product or service being sold. The license is only valid for the product or service specified.  If you have any questions about whether a company is properly licensed, call the City of Seattle’s Office of Revenue & Consumer Affairs at 206-684-8136.

DISCLOSURE REQUIRED:  Each residential seller shall, immediately upon contacting the prospective buyer, disclose their name, company and the product or service represented.  If requested to do so, they shall leave the premises immediately.  If the individual does not leave, or if an attempt to gain access is made by asking to use the bathroom, the phone or get a drink of water, refuse the request and ask the individual to leave.  If you feel intimidated, pressured, or threatened at any time, call 911.

USE GOOD JUDGEMENT: It is safer not to allow the salesperson into your home.  You are encouraged to avoid paying immediately.  Do not give the salesperson cash or a check, as it may be pocketed and you will never receive the product ordered.  Instead, find out from the seller how you can order directly from the company or receive the bill upon receipt of the product/service.  If the salesperson is concerned about losing their commission for the sale, offer to provide their name when placing your order.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: In Seattle, if you make a purchase, the salesperson must tell you of your right to cancel the order and the contract must include a statement regarding the right to cancel.  For each sale of ten dollars or more, the seller must provide a receipt or contract to the purchaser.  Do not leave any blanks on your contract.  Be sure the contract or receipt is dated and that it states the terms of the transaction, the amount of payment made and the name and address of the residential seller.  It must also include a notice informing the buyer of their right to cancel the order any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of the transaction.  A completed Notice of Cancellation (in duplicate) must be provided to the purchaser at the time they purchase from the seller.  You do not need to provide a reason for canceling your order.

DO NOT GIVE IN TO HIGH PRESSURE TACTICS:  Never be afraid to say “NO!”  If a salesperson in your home tries to pressure you into buying their product, terminate your conversation with them.  Take the time to contact the company directly if you still have interest in the product or service.  Avoid making an immediate purchase in order to receive a “free gift.”  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

When should you call 911? If an unlicensed sales person shows up at your residence, call 911 and report it.  Calling as soon as possible with a good description,  direction the suspicious person is traveling, and address will all help officers locate the suspect(s).

And, as a general reminder, it’s not just the non-licensed solicitors that are targeting our neighborhood. Car prowls and break-ins are still occurring with too-regular frequency. For any suspicious activities or people, SPD advises calling 911 as soon as possible.

Here are the key items of information that help SPD when you call 911:

  • Good description of the person
  • Location – street name, number or hundred block, or address
  • Direction of travel
  • Identifying features and/or items: race, gender, height, weight, age, clothing, and any distinguishing features. Are they carrying a backpack? What color is it?

Remember to report all crimes and suspicious activity to SPD by calling 911 or the non-emergency number (206.625.5011).

SPD Queen Anne Meeting – Key Message? Report Crimes both Large and Small

Last night, the SPD Queen Anne Community Meeting took place as part of SPD’s Safe Communities initiative. A little over a dozen residents took part in the discussion with the moderator and two SPD officers, Officer Sam Cook and Officer Chad McLaughlin. One discussion point that became a common thread across priorities was reporting crime and suspicious activity – when, how, and why. More on that below, along with key reference links, numbers, and tips.

The group discussed key issues in a round-table format, with residents echoing similar sentiments as we circled the room. Each resident had the opportunity to cite their top concern, then the group discussed which of those concerns should bubble to the top of the priority list. The top five priorities will be taken forward to a larger Precinct Based Summit in March via our new community delegate and alternate delegate – thanks to Queen Anne residents Beverly and Patty for stepping up!

The top 5 priorities for Queen Anne:

  1. Traffic – school and pedestrian safety
  2. Parks & Queen Anne Ave – increase patrols late at night
  3. Communication – residents need to report crimes; SPD needs to improve community relations
  4. Lighting – increased street lighting would help reduce crime
  5. Car Prowls – residents need to report car prowls

Officers Cook and McLaughlin provided tips and information on SPD, including a key point that we should all take note of – there are only 4-5 officers patrolling Queen Anne and Magnolia. SPD resources are limited across the city, and residents need to keep in mind that response time to lower priority calls may be delayed if they’re dealing with other higher-priority calls – but don’t let that deter you from reporting suspicious activity.

That brings us back to the issue about reporting crime – it touches nearly all of the priorities, as well as other concerns voiced last night. All too often people don’t call 911 or the non-emergency number for suspicious activities or people, vandalism, car prowls, and even major crimes such as muggings. Back in December, we reported on muggings near Kerry Park, only one of 4 incidents sent to Queen Anne View had been reported to SPD. In order for SPD to know what’s happening and where, residents need to report crime – the data from calls helps determine crime patterns and trends.

So, what to report? If you see something that is suspicious or are a victim of a crime, call 911 or the non-emergency number (206.625.5011). Here are some tips from the officers, to give you their perspective:

  • SPD officers gravitate to hot spots of activity – for example, repeated reports about suspicious activity at a park raises SPD’s awareness. A particular location can become a hot spot for proactive patrols.
  • Response time – with the limited number of SPD officers, you may not get instant gratification from a call for something like suspicious activity – but if you call for every incident, the tracking data will show there’s an ongoing issue, and SPD can target it proactively
  • Call a lot – to echo point #2, don’t stop calling just because the first call didn’t yield results. Tracking data is key, and calling repeatedly on criminal or suspicious activity does not make you a nuisance. Calls feed into the tracking database, which is key for identifying trends or hot-spots
  • When to call – the officers emphasized that residents need to call for both large and small issues. Don’t let smaller crimes go unreported: Did your car get broken into but nothing taken? Report it. Did a strange person walk through your backyard? Report it.

Net message from the SPD officers: to make a safer community, people need to call for larger or small activities.

Who should I call – 911 or 206.625.5011?

Call 911:

  • If the crime is still in progress or it is an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.
  • When you have a Police, Fire or Medical emergency.
  • There is a situation that could, or does, pose a danger to life, property or both.
  • There is a suspicious activity involving a person(s) or vehicle that appears to have criminal intent.
  • Any situation that requires immediate dispatch of an officer.

Call the non-emergency number 206.625.5011 when:

  • You want to report a nuisance, such as a noise or parking complaint.
  • To report a non-emergency crime – one that did not just occur, and the suspects are not in the immediate area.
  • You have questions about something suspicious occurring in your neighborhood, and you are not sure it is criminal activity.

Key Reference Sites:

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