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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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Car chase through Queen Anne ends with stolen SPD patrol car vs retaining wall

May 2nd, 2013 by Laura

SPD Car Crash Blotter

Photo courtesy of SPD Blotter

According to the SPD Blotter, a 35-year old man was arrested today after leading SPD officers on a car chase through Queen Anne – traveling via a stolen SPD patrol car.

The incident began just after noon today when SPD received a report of the suspect attacking another man on a Metro bus near Aurora and Denny Way. He fled south through the Battery Street tunnel, where two SPD patrol officers intercepted him. He then attacked a female officer and escaped in an SPD patrol car.

SPD Car Crash

Photo courtesy of Jim Leach

Officers pursued the suspect up Queen Anne to W Olympic Place and 8th Ave W, with the chase ending when the suspect crashed the stolen SPD patrol car into a retaining wall.

According to Queen Anne resident Jim Leach, “it appear[ed] to me when the perp passed the Kinnear Park swing set, he saw two Police cars coming toward him on the arterial and he made a late decision to drive up 8th West, but he entered the corner way to hot.”

Post-crash, officers took the suspect (who appeared to be “very intoxicated”) into custody. Since he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, he suffered cuts to his hands and face. He was transported to Harborview for treatment.

The Blotter reports that SPD in investigating the suspect’s possible involvement in a hit-and-run on his chase route, as well as further details around the day’s events.

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Human remains found on East Queen Anne hillside

April 11th, 2013 by Laura

600 GalerAccording to SPD, Seattle Parks Department employees found remains identified as human bones on the wooded slope above Aurora Ave N at 11:40am Thursday morning. The Parks employees were clearing blackberry vines on the hillside near the 600 block of Galer St when they discovered bones in what appeared to be an old campsite.

SPD homicide and CSI detectives responded to the 911 call; King County Medical Examiner also reported to the scene. Per the SPD blotter, a preliminary investigation indicates that the remains had been on the hillside “for a significant period of time”.

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SPD arrests burglar on Queen Anne – his 3rd arrest in 6 days

March 15th, 2013 by Laura

According the the SPD Blotter, after responding to two early morning Queen Anne burglaries today, SPD arrested a 28 year-old male suspect… his third arrest in the past 6 days. In addition to his Queen Anne burglaries, he was also arrested and booked into King Count Jail for criminal trespassing on March 6th and on March 7th – two days in a row. Obviously, he was out and about this morning, and targeting our neighborhood.

From the Blotter:

At approximately 4:46 a.m. officers responded to an apartment complex in the 1300 block of 2nd Avenue West for the report of an occupied burglary.  Preliminary investigation indicates that the suspect gained entry into the female victim’s apartment through an unlocked door.  The victim woke up due to some noise coming from her living room.  When she came out of her bedroom to investigate she found an unknown adult male suspect standing in her living room talking.  The victim pushed the suspect out the front door and called 911.  The suspect was gone upon the officers’ arrival on scene.

However, the officers were determined to catch the suspect and stayed in the area.  They were within seconds of the location of a subsequent 911 call of a suspicious prowler.

At approximately 6:23 a.m. a homeowner called 911 to report a suspicious male suspect trespassing in peoples’ yards and looking into windows in the area of the 1400 block of 1st Avenue North.  Responding officers conducted an area search for the suspect and located him on a third floor balcony in the 1400 block of 1st Avenue North.  The suspect was taken into custody without further incident.  The victims responded to the arrest location and positively identified the suspect.

Note the second call was for suspicious activity – thanks to a resident reporting someone trespassing and looking into windows, SPD was able to respond and get a positive identification. A good reminders to call 911 if you see or hear suspicious activity or a suspicious person or persons. SDP also reminds residents to lock doors and windows, especially at night and when you leave your home, and to keep doors and windows well-lit.

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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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SPD to Host Queen Anne Community Meeting on January 22nd

January 10th, 2013 by Laura

I’ve seen Seattle Police Department (SPD) community meetings come across other neighborhood blogs and now it’s our turn – SPD is coming to the Queen Anne Community Center on January 22nd to meet with residents. If you have concerns about crime (remember the Kerry Park-area muggings?), safety, or any specific questions for SPD, mark your calendars and RSVP for this meeting by January 16th. SPD is looking for 20-30 residents to participate in small group discussions, but that is not a hard-and-fast limit – they’re willing to accomodate all who want to join in on the discussion. It’s our turn to meet with SPD, and it’s a great opportunity for the community.

From our SPD West Precinct Operations contact:

The Mayor’s Office and the Seattle Police Department would like to hear from community members of Queen Anne as to how SPD can address specific neighborhood concerns and improve as an organization. We are seeking 20-30 residents that would like to attend a community meeting in which participants will gather in small groups. RSVP is necessary so that organizers can assure enough SPD officers and moderators are present.  If interest exceeds our target number of participants, we will adjust so that everyone is accommodated.

Key Details

  • What: SPD – Queen Anne Community Meeting
  • When: Tuesday January 22, 6-8pm
  • Where: Queen Anne Community Center (1901 1st Ave. W)
  • RSVP via email by Wednesday January 16, 2013

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SPD and Mercer St on Wednesday’s QACC Agenda

January 1st, 2013 by Laura

The Queen Anne Community Council meets tomorrow, Wednesday, January 2 at the Queen Anne Manor. This month’s meeting has two key items on the agenda – a report from the Seattle Police Department and an update from SDOT on the Mercer Corridor Project. SPD hasn’t confirmed yet, but the QACC did get a verbal commitment from the West Precinct a couple of weeks ago. The public is welcome to attend, so if you have questions or concerns about crime on Queen Anne or the even messier Mercer mess, mark your calendar.

Key Details

  • What: QACC January Meeting
  • Where: Queen Anne Manor, 100 Crockett Street
  • When: Wednesday, January 2, 7:30pm
  • Agenda:
    • 7:30 – Adoption of Agenda
    • 7:35 – Public Comments
    • 7:45 – Seattle Police Department (not confirmed)
    • 8:15 – SDOT- Update of Phase II Mercer Corridor
    • 8:45 – Committee Reports
    • 9:15 – New Business
    • 9:30 – Adjournment

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Saturday Morning SPD & SFD Response on Queen Anne Ave N

December 29th, 2012 by Laura

Did you see the police cars, fire truck, and ambulance this morning on Queen Anne Ave N? We received several tips about a large police response this morning at 915 Queen Anne Ave N, but the SPD Blotter and incident response sites were down. Now the Blotter is back up (incident response site is not) and we have more info on what happened.

According to the SPD Blotter, a 47 year-old man was breaking his apartment windows and throwing items out of said windows. When officers arrived on scene, he threw a liquor bottle at them and verbally threatened them. His aim was off; no officers were injured. He was tased and arrested, then transported to Harborview for the injuries he suffered as a result of breaking the window. Once treated, he’ll be booked into King County Jail for investigation of assault.

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Heads Up: Multiple Queen Anne Muggings Near Queen Anne Ave and Kerry Park

December 1st, 2012 by Laura

Earlier this week, we had a reader tip us to two recent muggings near Kerry Park, but apparently neither were reported to SPD (not on the SPD incident or report maps). However, now a mugging has been reported to SPD, and it sounds like the crimes may be related, as all were committed by groups of young males.

First up, the reported crime – according to an SPD report, at 2:35am on November 26th a man was mugged by four white males between the ages of 15 and 20 years old, all wearing dark, baggy clothing. The crime happened at Queen Anne Ave N and Lee Street when the victim was walking up the hill on the west side of the street. The suspects were walking in the opposite direction, asked for a cigarette, and then jumped the victim and began punching him. They took his cell phone and wallet, and have not been located or identified.

This brings us to the non-reported incidents, which sound very similar. A resident reported that a friend’s Facebook post described two separate friends being jumped, beaten, and mugged near Kerry Park and Queen Anne Ave; both people were attacked by a “group of guys.” And, via Reddit, someone posted about an “assault and robbery by a group of teenagers” near 2nd and Comstock. (note: no clarification on 2nd W or 2nd N – most likely 2nd W)

So, heads up to be aware of your surroundings and, if you are the victim of a crime, report it to SPD.

Reminder: report all crimes to SPD – the only way SPD will know if there’s a string of seemingly related crimes is to report them. Reporting crimes, even minor ones, alerts SPD to criminal activity in our neighborhood.

Here’s additional guidance from SPD:

If the crime is still in progress or it is an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.

Call 911 when:

  • 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.

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Party with police at the West Precinict Picnic today

August 25th, 2011 by Thea

The Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct, which covers the downtown business district, including Queen Anne, has invited neighbors in the communities it serves to join them at the annual West Precinct Picnic, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. today, Thursday, August 25 at the precinct headquarters at 810 Virginia Street.

Swing by and get to know the officers patrolling and responding to calls in your neighborhood.

The event is sponsored by the Seattle Police Foundation, and will include free food, dancing, children’s activities, an opportunity to meet and greet with your local officers, and get a close up look at some of the Department’s high-tech equipment. More information on the event page here.

The West Precinct serves Belltown, the Downtown Commercial Core, Duwamish/SODO, First Hill, Interbay, Magnolia, Pioneer Square, the International District and Queen Anne. More information on the precinct and the work it does in the community here.

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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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Porta Potti arson sets nearby car ablaze

August 16th, 2011 by Thea

One Queen Anne resident’s car was destroyed Sunday morning after it was engulfed in flames in an incident SPD says was caused by a nearby arson.

The Seattle Fire Department was called to a home near 10th Ave W and W Blaine Street at approximately 4:12 a.m. on Sunday, August 14 for a reported car fire. One neighbor, woken up from the commotion outside, looked our her window just in time to witness the ordeal.

“We were awoken by a car horn blaring. When we looked outside, our neighbor’s car was up in flames. It was quite terrifying. The entire front end was engulfed by the flames,” Laura told Queen Anne View. “After speaking with the police, they told us that this was arson and they’ve had similar occurrences of someone lighting port-a-potties on fire on purpose. This one in particular, happened to have a car parked in front of it.”

Currently there is no police report for the incident on file. We called the Seattle Police Department to confirm whether or not this event was in fact arson, and if this incident is part of any trend here in Queen Anne, and will update this story as soon as we get more information.

Update 4 p.m.: SPD Detective Jeff Kappel confirms that while the car itself was not the intentional target of the arson, it was damaged when someone set fire to a nearby Porta Potti.

“It was a Porta Potti that was on fire, and it spread to a parked car that was nearby. The Porta Potti was set on fire by unknown means at this time,” Detective Kappel said, adding that it was arson. “Those things don’t get set on fire by themselves,” he said. Arson squad detectives are currently investigating the incident.

Laura says SPD responders told her that the incident was related to other cases of arson that had happened recently near Discovery Park in Magnolia. Detective Kappel could not confirm this information.

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