Neighbors concerned after recent crime spree

In recent weeks, a burglar or burglars have been targeting the Blue Ridge and North Beach areas and concerned neighbors are trying to get the word out. Patty Jahn knows of several people who have had their homes or cars broken into and is worried, “We just want to make sure people are safe,” she says. According to police, many of the burglaries happen between midnight and 4 a.m. while people are sleeping inside. Computers, cars, cell phones, iPods and other electronics have been stolen, police say, adding that only once has a flimsy back door been broken in, otherwise the burglar(s) get in through other means.

We spoke with an officer from the Seattle Police Department who patrols these neighborhoods and says there are things you can do to make yourself a harder target. He says that during a few of these burglaries, the door between the garage and house was left unlocked and the garage door opener was in the car out front. The officer says to double check your doors and windows, and don’t leave spare house keys in your car. You might also want to check your pet door. At one house, which was hit multiple times, the thief came in through the dog door. It was big enough to get half way through so the burglar could reach up, unlock the door and let himself in.

Being the holidays, the officer reminds people to not leave presents out in the open, which could be tempting to the burglars. “I need to take my own advice on this,” he said, saying that people should write down the serial numbers for their electronics. When this officer comes to a house that has been broken in to he wants to know the serial numbers of stolen items so police can check pawn shops and online sites.

The officer says that the crime spree has subsided since the day after Thanksgiving and thinks the police presence may have scared the burglars for now. He will continue to patrol the neighborhood looking for anything suspicious and urges neighbors to call 911 if they see anything suspicious. (Thanks Rudy for your help on this story!)

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pattr
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pattr

“Seattle Police Department who patrols these neighborhoods….”

Take it from me who lives here the SPD rarely if ever patrols our neighborhood!

Ballardmom
Guest
Ballardmom

Does anyone have any hard statistics on whether or not porch lights detract burglars? My husband and I have been having a debate about that but haven't found anything to support either side of the argument.

Alysse
Guest
Alysse

No statistics information. If the light is on, the chance of being observed breaking in increases, so maybe the burglar will go to a dark porch instead. Another place I lived they said to improve sight lines to the street by cutting bushes and trees.

SPG
Guest
SPG

No idea on porch light stats, but motion sensor lights have a psychological effect that is an acknowledged deterrent. The reasoning is that when a light comes on the burglar gets the feeling that someone turned it on, even if they know that it is a motion sensor, and they're less inclined to hang around. A light turning on also attracts attention to itself so even outside of psychological effect a burglar is more likely to be spotted when a light goes on than one is on the whole time.

cnt
Guest
cnt

Here is an article that presents some ideas, obviously, the author is an advocate of dark skies, but I think that he brings up some issues that might create some additional conversation between you and your husband. You will need to read past the first page to get to the crime part.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/08/20/0

Computrav
Guest
Computrav

This is a great point. I have an alarm system at my house that I installed. Works great and sounds a loud alarm, but it doesn't call the cops when it it set off. That of course would be better, but costs $. My theory is that if someone were breaking into my house and it starts beeping as soon as they come in (saying “enter your code or I'm going to sound my alarm in 30 seconds”), they're probably not going to stick around. I know some criminals are pretty dumb, but that's basic stuff. It's all about making them think something: someone's home, the cops are coming, etc. It's similar logic that if there are 4 cars out on the street and 1 of them has a backpack sitting in it, that's the car that'll get broken into first. Yes, they may do the others as well, but if someone rolls by or turns a light on or whatever, they will scatter and the other cars will be left alone.

Corbeau
Member
Corbeau

“He says that during a few of these burglaries, the door between the garage and house was left unlocked and the garage door opener was in the car out front. “

My old man was a burglary detective and he said this was the most common way burglars got into houses. They would take a replacement garage door opener (easily bought at any hardware store) and simply drive around clicking it until a garage door opened. They'd then park a van inside, close the door and take their sweet time looting the house knowing the owners were probably at work. Most people have deadbolts on their front/back doors but never think to put one on the door to their garage. Better yet, unplug your garage door opener at night and latch it shut. I have a lot of expensive tools in my garage and that's what I do.

Other tips:
Use the metal plate that comes with your pet door.
Deter burglars by planting bushes (especially thorny ones) under any low windows.
Make sure your windows have locks/latches and be sure to use them.
Don't leave anything you value sitting in your car – amazing how many people don't get this one!

poeky
Guest
poeky

Good advice. I posted some in the stolen jacket thread on phinneywood.com and got flamed for my trouble.

Then again, I wasn't so nice about it. ;)

SPG
Guest
SPG

I thought that modern garage door openers all have rolling codes that prevent that from happening? I'm sure there's still some old ones in use without it, but I got the impression that the cars were burgled first to get the opener.
Either way, the scarier part about this is that they're burglarizing at night when people are home. From what I've heard this is actually atypical in that most burglars break in during the day when people are at work. Typically ring the front door bell, nobody answers, then go around back and kick in the door.

anonymous
Guest
anonymous

My daughter's school had a lockdown today because there was an armed robbery 6 blocks away and the criminal got away. All this violence and crime happening lately is a great reminder to be extra careful.

Idle Activist
Guest
Idle Activist

Motion lights are very effective. Kind of like turning on a kitchen light and watching cockroaches scatter.

BTown
Guest
BTown

I think that some people might be taking advantage of the seniors in Ballard. Older homes that have people who feel that their neighborhood is so safe that they don't have to lock their doors. Plus, the “Liberal Core” of Seattle most likely does not have many guns to worry about.

I'll make sure to have the motion detector on when I go to bed these days.

All and all it make me sad… and alarmed. I constantly ask myself what would I do if I confronted a burgler.

Corbeau
Member
Corbeau

Modern garage doors are not as vulnerable but there are still lots of older models still in homes. Burglars also enter homes by prying a garage door open wide enough to gain entry. People assume a garage door opener acts as some sort of lock but it doesn't. Burglars will pry the door open enough to slip in and since most people don't lock the doors to their garage…

Corbeau
Member
Corbeau

Problem with having a gun is that it only protects your home if you're there (and awake enough to use it!) If a burglar breaks into your home while you're at work all your gun is going to do is become yet another stolen weapon in the hands of a criminal.

Fed Up
Guest
Fed Up

Hey, here's an idea; why don't we get more people whose job it is to conduct public safety to, um do their public safety thing?? How about some good old fashioned outrage at the fact that during the evening hours, you don't see a single Police patrol in ALL OF NORTH SEATTLE.

Crazy, I know. I mean, if they were out on bikes, or foot or emission free arugula cart whatever I don't care. This area has seen a marked increase in crime the past year as we all have felt and until there is a greater law enforcement presence, it will continue.

I mean, locks, lights, shrubs, etc. are fine ideas. But how bout some good old fashioned outrage here? Angry fed up voters telling the new mayor that while we are thrilled his carbon footprint is negative, how about focusing on making the police footprint positive up in these parts?? Anybody????

Paul L
Guest
Paul L

“The officer says that the crime spree has subsided since the day after Thanksgiving and thinks the police presence may have scared the burglars for now.”

Nope! They just moved over to the Broadview neighborhood. There's been lots of middle of the night burglary action for the last month in the neighborhood just north of Carkeek. Beware people coming by your door selling windows (probably casing the joint).

Name
Guest
Name

2 bikes stolen from my and a neighbors mistakenly unlocked garages in the Loyal Heights on Saturday-Monday. There are lots of roving sticky fingers about these days.

Olympia
Guest
Olympia

Right on dad!

nbmilitia
Guest
nbmilitia

I would have to agree pattr….. As a resident of North Beach I rarely if ever see them north of 85th.

nbmilitia
Guest
nbmilitia

I guess the other thing that really bugs me after talking to the police dept is the feeling that we are almost a nuisance. These burglaries are straight-up scary because of the time of night that they are taking place. I just really wish I felt any sense of urgency or maybe even a little concern from the North Precinct…

Juliana
Guest
Juliana

I never realized there was such an advantage to not having a garage.

Facepalm
Guest
Facepalm

Yeah I've also heard that sitting at home and not driving around incredibly reduces the risk of road accidents. Also, this just in: living without electricity / gas = less risk of home accidents. Oh and avoiding society altogether and living alone in the mountains means no one to bother you.

SPG
Guest
SPG

Are you talking about the robbery of the 76 gas station on Aurora/84th? You know who the criminal was who got away, then was apprehended by your daughter's school? A STUDENT FROM THAT SCHOOL.

James_n_Ballard
Guest
James_n_Ballard

One of the reasons Public Safety Officers are in short supply is budgetary. Those officers are part of the “bloated government” that tax initiative supporters keep complaining about.

anonymous
Guest
anonymous

No. My daughter goes to a school very nearby, not THAT specific school. But that story just goes to show that people are messed up, and you can't be too careful.

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