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

December 6th, 2014 by Laura

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!

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

July 25th, 2013 by Laura

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.

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

June 5th, 2013 by Laura

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).

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

January 23rd, 2013 by Laura

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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Recent Break-Ins on Upper Queen Anne and Some Crime Prevention Reminders

November 17th, 2012 by Laura

A reader sent us a tip on some recent Upper Queen Anne residential break-ins, and with holiday travel planned by many residents, it’s a good time for some reminders on prevention.

Two day-time break-ins occurred on November 9th, both near McGraw and Queen Anne Ave N. According to police reports, these break-ins happened during the day when the residents were away. While we all hate to hear of criminal activities in our neighborhood, they can serve as reminders to follow key prevention steps and know your neighbors.

The Seattle Police Department has a comprehensive list of tips for preventing residential break-ins and burglaries – here are some key tips, but please check out the full brochure for comprehensive coverage of crime-prevention tips and stay safe this holiday season.

Your Trusted Neighbors

  • The fewer people who know your home is not occupied the better – only alert trusted neighbors to your plans, and consider having them or house-sitters pick up your mail and paper instead of stopping these services.

Landscape

  • Trim shrubbery that conceals entries or windows to increase visibility and eliminate hiding places.
  • Remove tree limbs that could allow access to an upper-story window or balcony.

Exterior Lighting

  • Exterior lighting needs to be bright enough for you to see 100 feet .
  • The perimeter of your home should be well lit, especially at the entryway.
  • Exterior lighting on the front of a property should be on from dusk until dawn.
  • For the rear areas of the home or side yard, consider motion sensor lights.

Interior Lighting

  • Light timers are inexpensive and should be used daily, not just when you’re away.
  • Use light-timers near the front and back windows.
  • Timers can be also used to turn on radios or TVs for the illusion of occupancy.
  • Set timers to come on at different time intervals and not all at the same time.

Tools and Ladders

  • Keep all tools and ladders securely locked and out of plain view.

Fencing

  • A solid privacy fence can provide a burglar with cover, consider an iron railing or chain-link fence instead.
  • Use a padlock, combo or cipher lock on gates.

Alarm Signs, Block Watch Signs and Operation ID stickers

  • Alarm-company signs in your yard, Neighborhood Watch signs in the neighborhood, or alarm and Block Watch/Operation ID decals or dog notices on your property tell burglars to steer clear of your home and neighborhood. (SPD advise you back these up with action – create a Block Watch)

Spare Keys

  • Don’t hide a spare key near your front door; burglars know all the hiding places.  Leave a spare key with a trusted neighbor.
  • Do not leave spare keys in the glove box of your car.
  • Secure any spare house and car keys in your home out of sight.

Being Away From Home For Extended Periods

  • Let neighbors know your plans so they can watch your home for you.
  • Let neighbors know if someone will be house-or pet-sitting so they don’t call 911 inadvertently.
  • Don’t let mail and newspapers pile up – have the Post Office hold your mail or have a neighbor bring in your mail and newspapers

House Numbers

  • Be sure your house number is visible from the street, particularly at night.

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SPD arrests suspected neighborhood car prowler

August 18th, 2011 by Thea

The Seattle Police Department’s west precinct crime prevention coordinator Francisco Tello sent the following update on local crime activity to neighborhood block watch captains Wednesday:

More good news! Alert neighbors are reporting suspicious activity, excellent work is being done by responding officers and West detectives have been stellar. Let’s continue with being observant and reporting suspicious behavior. Do not let your guard down.

On Thursday, August 4, 2011 at approximately 7:27 a.m. officers responded to a report by a citizen of a suspicious white male walking up to two separate residences and trying the door knobs on West Highland Drive. The suspicious male was described as wearing a black hat, black clothing and carrying a red backpack.

Responding officer stopped a person matching that description on the 1200 block of Queen Anne Ave N between Comstock Street and Highland Drive. The officer advised the suspect that he was contacted because he matched a description given of a possible burglar. While waiting for arrival of a backup officer, the suspect was instructed to sit. The officer asked the suspect why he was walking around residences. Suspect stated that he was thirsty and was just looking for water. The officer asked the suspect why he did not ask a local business for a  glass of water or use the water fountain up the street at the intersection of Queen Anne Ave N and Galer. The suspect was unable to provide an answer. Further investigation by the officer revealed that the suspect was in possession of a large amount of U. S. paper currency and coins. The backup officer arrived and continued with the investigation. Checking the status of the identification of the suspect revealed that the suspect had previously been arrested for burglary. Other contents of the backpack included smaller electronics. The suspect was taken into custody and brought to the West Precinct where detectives continued the investigation, and discovered that the electronics were taken from a reported car prowl nearby. West Precinct detectives are requesting theft charges on the case.

If you suspect that your property was among the items found through this arrest, contact Officer Tello at (206) 684-4730.

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Recent burglaries in Queen Anne and Magnolia

July 14th, 2011 by Thea

The Seattle Police Department West Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator Francisco Tello sent out this email to members of the community today notifying them of recent burglary activity in the Queen Anne and Magnolia area and providing tips on how to respond and prevent home break-in crime.

Recently there has been some burglary activity on Queen Anne and Magnolia that we like to alert you about.  Some of the burglaries have been non-forced (walk-ins ) the burglar has gained entry by an unsecured door or window.  The forced entries ones, the suspect(s) breaks small window next to front or rear door and unlocks the door to gain entry. Once inside takes laptops, TV’s, checks and miscellaneous items.  All burglaries have been on un-occupied houses between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM. The burglaries and other crime types can be viewed on our “Crime Reporting Map” If you have not visited our “Crime Reporting Map” web site you can accesses it  at http://web5.seattle.gov/mnm/policereports.aspx To view the Police reports you have to subscribe, the incidents listed with a “narrative” will have more detail.  A person of interest related to this activity is a Caucasian male 30-40 years old 5’7 to 6’ tall thin build, scruffy unshaven facial hair.  Dark clothing with a backpack.   Suspicious circumstances reported, a person matching that description knocked at a residence.   The home owner did not answered the front door right away and the person seemed startled when the home owner  open the door.  The person asked the home owner for directions to Interbay.  The home owner asked what part of  Interbay the person could not answer and left right away.  The home owner thought that the person acted suspicious.  About 15 minutes later a burglary was reported several blocks away.  A note about the suspicious circumstances, the house that was targeted is the only house on the block with shrubbery that obstructs clear view from the street.

Our Crime Analysis Detective is aware of the activity as well as the District Officers.  The District Officers are extra attentive to suspicious behaviors, and West Precinct Detectives are actively working the cases.  You can assist us by making sure your doors and windows are secured, work with your neighbors to watch your residence if you are going to be away. Trust your instincts and  report suspicious behaviors or persons to 9-1-1.  A note about calling 9-1-1, when you call 9-1-1 you will be talking to an operator, the operator does not dispatch Officers.  Depending on the nature and priority of the call the operator will be relaying information to a dispatcher.  The operator will ask you questions, please follow the operators questions, it may seem that nothing is happening but again depending on the priority of the call a dispatcher will be relaying information to the responding Officers.  Practice describing people, when calling 9-1-1 in case of an incident good description and direction of travel of the fleeing suspect(s) will be of great help to the responding Officers.  If there is an alley behind your residence, put your address on the alley side as well, this will assist responding Officers locate the correct residence should they approach from the alley..  If you are interested on more prevention tips visit our Seattle Police Department web site.

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City plans crackdown on prostitution near Seattle Center

May 26th, 2011 by Thea

City officials may soon be cracking down on prostitution activities in the stretch of land just east of Seattle Center – the area known as “The Track” along Mercer between 5th Ave N, Lenora, and Westlake, which has become a prime target for gang activity and recruitment into prostitution, according to a report by SeattleCrime.

Documents from the City Attorney’s Office, obtained by SeattleCrime, indicate that officials are interested in creating a new Stay Out of Area of Prostitution (S.O.A.P.) zone in the area. From SeattleCrime:

The S.O.A.P. zones allow courts to require people charged with prostitution to stay out of high-prostitution areas–primarily around downtown–while they await trial or following their release from jail.

The city already has seven S.O.A.P. zones set up around town. According to the report, officials would remove the zone around E Pine to Pike from 10th Ave to 9th Ave., and create a new zone around The Track, where several gang members involved in pimping young women were arrested last year.

Staff from the City Attorney’s Office are scheduled to appear in front of a judge to ask for the S.O.A.P. zone expansion on Friday. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more. You can read the full story at SeattleCrime.

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SPD West Precinct ups officers on foot patrol

May 4th, 2011 by Thea

The West Precinct of the Seattle Police Department has recently reinvigorated its foot patrol team in an attempt to both curb crime, and build lasting relationships with the communities they police and the neighbors that live and work in them. Take a look at KOMO4′s story on the newly expanded SPD walking beat:

Capt. Joe Kessler, who took over the West Precinct back in October, reinstated the foot patrol unit, dedicating some 32 officers to walking beats in communities within the precinct, up from one eight-officer team in years before, according to KOMO4.

What do you think about the expansion of the foot patrol program? Do you think the Queen Anne community will benefit from having dedicating officers on regular walking beats, or do you think SPD should be putting its resources into other programs and services to better serve the neighborhood?

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Four cars stolen in Queen Anne last week

March 29th, 2011 by Thea

Yesterday we received this note from Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention officer Terrie Johnston. She reviews the police incident reports on a daily basis, and while doing so noticed an alarming trend over the last week in our area:

Today upon reviewing the reported crime for Queen Anne and Magnolia, I noticed that in the past 7 days there were three vehicles stolen from Magnolia (Volvo SW; Toyota Highlander and an Acura Integra) and 4 vehicles stolen from Queen Anne (2 Subaru Legacys; KIA Rio; and a BMW).  This is in addition to a theft of a license plate on Queen Anne, and several car prowls.  I found that number of incidents to be abnormally high.  I phoned the Auto Theft Sergeant and he said  the number of Auto Thefts in Seattle are down, and have been decreasing steadily.  In fact, we are at nearly 1/3 of the number of Auto Thefts which occurred in 2005.  However, we agreed that there are some simple things we can do to try and prevent becoming a victim of auto theft.

This sergeant reports that he uses a steering wheel locking device on every car he owns, and he uses the device, every time he parks his car.  These devices act as a good visual deterrent.  They are just one more thing the thief has to disable in an attempt to steal the vehicle. There are also a variety of locking metal devices that can disable everything from your gearshift, gas pedal, brake pedal, hood, tires, etc.

Johnston also suggests a few other tips for keeping your cars safe from prowls and thefts. “If you have a garage, use it. Park your car in there!” she writes. “Keep the garage and any other doors leading into the garage locked, and keep car doors locked inside the garage.”

According to Johnston, two-thirds of all auto thefts occur at night. Because of this, installing motion-sensitive lighting around car ports, driveways, parking areas and alleyways may help deter thieves from targeting those cars. She also recommends that residents leave their front porch lights on from dusk until dawn.

Cars are often stolen for their parts (including airbags). It can take an expert thief as little as seven seconds and one screwdriver to break into a vehicle, and less than one minute to drive away.  Please be vigilant for strangers on your block, trying door handles, looking into vehicles.  You can call 9-1-1 to report suspicious activity.

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SPD tips to protect against residential burglaries

March 23rd, 2011 by Thea

In a community newsletter sent out on Tuesday, Seattle Police Department crime prevention officer Terrie Johnston advised the community on how to help keep your home from being a target in an all-too-common residential burglary. From the newsletter:

The most common way used to force entry through a door with a wooden jamb is to kick it open. When a door is kicked in, the frame usually splinters and gives way, allowing the burglar to enter.  The weakest point is almost always the strike plate that holds the latch or lock bolt in place. The average door strike plate is secured only to the doorframe molding. These lightweight moldings are often tacked on to the doorframe and can be torn away with a firm kick.  Increasingly, we’ve noticed a trend of burglars increasingly using pry tools at doors to gain entry into homes.

To help fortify your home against intruders, SPD suggests reinforcing your exterior doors and deadbolt locks through a few minor upgrades that can be done at home. Read the full list of suggestions in the newsletter (.pdf).

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December crime/burglary update for Queen Anne

December 20th, 2010 by Thea

The Seattle Police Department’s west precinct may be losing its crime prevention coordinator come April 1, but until then Terrie Johnston is continuing with her monthly crime and burglary recaps for the community. Check our her full letter to the community regarding crime in Queen Anne this December here:

Hi, I wanted to share information I gleaned from residential burglaries reported this month of December.  It is not unusual to see slight increases in property crimes during the holidays. Why might this happen?  People are often scurrying about shopping, going to parties, etc.  and our social calendars can become fuller at year’s end.  That can mean we don’t pay full attention to security and safety.  Add to that, many people go out of town during the season; school is out; and there are gifts everywhere (in cars; under the tree; sitting on front porches).  You get the picture.  So let’s look at some of the significant points for December’s burglaries so far.

The majority of the burglaries still occured during the daytime hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. A common method of entry was using something in the yard to gain access to the windows, i.e. a garbage can was turned upside down to reach a window; an outside stool was strategically placed under a window and used as stairs; the victim’s step-ladder was used to gain access to the 2nd floor balcony where the thieves entered through an unlocked sliding door.  In a few burglaries, entry was believed to have been made through the dog door.  Several entries were made through unlocked windows.  One victim went for a short run and left the front door unlocked and came home to a completed burglary. Thieves came into an unlocked  garage door and stole all the food from the freezer;  another victim reported that he fell asleep with his front door unlocked.  This allowed the crook(s) to enter, remove the vehicle’s remote from the ashtray on the table by the front door.  That car was then prowled.  In another burglary, a concealed side door was kicked in, shattering the door frame.  In one incident, the home owners returned mid-day and discovered the burglars in their home.

Here are some of the items reported stolen this month: 9 mm pistol; laptops, money, cameras; heavy stereo speakers; 42” flat screen TV; electronics, jewelry & sewing machine, and wrapped Christmas gifts.  It’s hard to imagine how some of those bigger items were removed unseen.  Was more than one thief involved?  Did they use a car?  A look out?  Please do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 if on your block you see unknown people, with heavy backpacks or a stuffed pillow case (as was done in a burglary last week) acting suspiciously or unknown cars in your neighbor’s driveway when they are gone.  Trust your gut!

My tips: Use the locks and latches you have.  Be religious about locking up, even if you are only going to be away for a brief time.   Keep shrubbery pruned back so neighbors can see onto your property.  Get a house sitter if you will be away.  Start or rekindle your Block Watch so your neighbors can be invited to watch out for your home when you cannot be there.  Lock up or store out-of-sight any ladders, sawhorses, etc.  Close your blinds in the rooms where there are desirable electronics when you are away.   Do not hesitate to report anything suspicious to 9-1-1, even if it isn’t an emergency.  Call me if you would like a free home security survey conducted.  Thank you for sharing this information with your neighbors and Block Watch contacts.

For more information contact Terrie directly at the Seattle Police Crime Prevention number, 206-684-4741, or via email at Terrie.Johnston@seattle.gov.

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