Seattle PD makes arrests in fire alarm burglaries

It was an unusual crime spree: burglars trigger an apartment fire alarm, and after residents evacuate the building, they grab credit cards and other loot from unlocked apartment units.

Seattle Police say officers arrested a man and a woman connected to a spree of more than a dozen such burglaries, most in the North Seattle area. The arrest followed a burglary on NE Thornton Place in Greenwood on Sunday night.

“Police arrived and spoke with the victim who said they had to exit their apartment following a fire alarm,” explains Detective Patrick Michaud. “While speaking with officers, the victim began receiving notifications their credit cards were being used at a nearby store.”

Police then responded to the store “and found two people that matched the description of the people detectives believed to be responsible for a string of similar burglaries,” Det. Michaud said. After they were taken into custody, Seattle PD says they confessed to more than a dozen additional burglaries. They were booked for investigation of burglary, fraud and multiple warrants.

Police seek woman who shoved child at Ballard Community Center

An intoxicated woman made her way into the Ballard Community on Monday afternoon and attempted to access a restricted area, according to Seattle PD.

“Staff members confronted the woman, who became agitated and walked toward the exit. On her way out the door, the woman shoved a four-year-old girl to the ground,” police said.

When officers arrived, the woman was gone. The child sustained minor injuries, and police are investigating the case as an assault.

Officers have provided a rather rudimentary suspect description: “White female in her 50s, approximately 5’8, with short blonde hair, dressed in all black.”

(File photo)

Homeowner shoots suspected burglar

Seattle Police say a homeowner in Loyal Heights shot a man attempting to break into his home just after 4 a.m. on Sunday.

Detective Mark Jamieson told My Ballard that the homeowner in the 6700 block of 25th Ave. NW discovered a man inside the mud room of his home attempting to break into the house. The homeowner fired a single shot through the door, striking the man, who fled the area. The homeowner called 911.

Seattle Police said a neighbor reported seeing a dark-colored station wagon leave the scene.

Ten minutes later, Swedish Ballard reported that a man with a gunshot wound to the abdomen had arrived in the emergency room. Responding officers discovered the station wagon parked nearby with fresh blood, possible stolen property and a man and woman inside, Jamieson said. The man had an outstanding warrant and was arrested. The woman, who is the sister of the man who was shot, was questioned and released, police say.

The man with the gunshot wound is currently at Harborview Medical Center. Police are waiting to talk with him.

(Our thanks to several neighbors, including Silver, who tipped us and posted in the My Ballard Facebook group.)

Thieves steal 800-pound antique bell from Ballard Elks Lodge

A 130-year-old brass bell that sat in front of the Ballard Elks Lodge on Shilshole Bay was stolen over the weekend.

Somehow thieves had loaded up the 800-pound bell from its resting spot in front of the lodge. Members reported the crime to police, hoping it was just a prank. Then when they started calling scrap yards in the area out of precaution, they made a sad discovery.

Recycling Depot in Georgetown told them that it received pieces of what appeared to be a brass bell.

“It’s really tough to decipher what’s stolen and what’s not stolen,” the manager of Recycling Depot told KIRO 7 when the TV station called. “We like to help as much as we can with something like this.” He said they bought the pieces for about $200.

It’s unclear how many pieces of the bell will be recovered. One member on Facebook said the bell originated from the Fremont Fire Marshall years ago.

In the meantime, Ballard Elks members said they’re putting up security cameras.

Police search for suspects on Sunday

Updated: Seattle Police searched a wide area of Frelard and West Woodland on Sunday evening for suspects believed to be connected to an assault and stolen vehicle.

It sounds like this originated from an assault that took place at a motel on Aurora Avenue, according to the scanner. Police discovered a stolen car with possible stolen property inside.

Officers were seen on 3rd, 5th and 6th Ave. NW, according to neighbors posting in the My Ballard Facebook Group. A K9 unit joined in the hunt.

While it appears officers were unable to find the suspects during the search, it sounds like an arrest may have been made later in the evening. We’re checking with SPD for details.

(Our thanks to Silver for the scanner updates.)

Ballard’s fear of crime ranks higher than most Seattle neighborhoods

In the third annual Public Safety Survey released today by Seattle University, Ballard appeared near the top of the list of neighborhoods in the “fear of crime” category, especially at night.

The 2017 survey (.pdf) gathered 6,454 responses citywide and split their answers into regions and neighborhoods. Survey categories include such things as police legitimacy, social cohesion and residents’ perception of their fear of crime.

Citywide 37.6% of residents said they’re afraid of crime during the day, 42.7% at night.

For “Ballard North”, 44.6% of residents say they’re afraid of daytime crime, 53.5% at night.

For “Ballard South” (Central Ballard), the numbers are very similar: 44.7% for day, 53.5% at night.

These Ballard numbers are higher than most neighborhoods, including Belltown, Capitol Hill and several South Seattle neighborhoods. Pioneer Square, Highland Park and the University District are among those that scored higher than Ballard.

For Fremont, the numbers are 35% during the day, 43.9% at night.

The most prominent themes of the Ballard survey results are a lack of police capacity, crime (both public safety and property crime) and homelessness. Among specific public safety concerns, residents cited car prowls, residential burglaries and car/RV camping.

How does this stack up over the three-year history of the survey? These “fear of crime” numbers are not substantially different for North Seattle, and it doesn’t break out Ballard specifically.

Also keep in mind, this study was conducted last year, before several high-profile crimes occurred in the Ballard area. And finally, this is a survey of perceptions, not of actual crimes, which are captured in another online report.

Police tracked burglary suspect in Loyal Heights

Scary moments for Loyal Heights residents last night as police searched for a burglary suspect.

A resident at 77 St. NW and NW 19th Ave. said there was an attempted burglary at her house at 10 p.m. after another burglary was reported nearby. Police responded in force with a K9 unit and searched a wide area, staging police cars and occasionally running their sirens.

The search continued until 2 a.m., according to Silver’s posts in the My Ballard Facebook Group.

It’s unclear if an arrest was made, but one neighbor says an officer told her that they did not find the suspect. We’ll update if we learn anything more.

Man pleads not guilty to Ballard rape

Christopher Teel pleaded not guilty to first-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment in King County Superior Court on Wednesday, KING 5 reports.

Court documents say Teel admitted to raping a woman in a bathroom at the Ballard Carter Volkswagen dealership earlier this month. Employees came to the victim’s aid and detained the suspect until police arrived.

A homeless man, Teel spent time at both the Ballard and then the Northlake Nickelsville tiny houses camp.

He remains held on $1 million bail.

Monday’s rape sparks questions and fuels homelessness debate

Christopher Teel was charged Wednesday with first-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation, two days after he is accused of attacking a woman in the temporary restroom of a Ballard car dealership. Photographs of Teel appeared in The Seattle Times in November, accompanying a story about the Ballard Nickelsville homeless camp. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

In a neighborhood that’s already grappling with homelessness, the news that a woman was raped in a car dealership bathroom in Ballard has fueled an already-heated debate. It also raises questions about the suspect’s bench warrant and Seattle Police’s delay in talking about the case.

Here are several stories covering the fallout:

  • Suspect Christopher Teel had an outstanding bench warrant for failing to appear in court after he was arrested for squatting in a Magnolia house. So why wasn’t he picked up earlier? Q13 reports the city has 11,314 bench warrants active in Seattle, and SPD said officers can’t actively pursue everyone with a warrant.
  • When asked why Seattle Police didn’t release information about the rape until the media discovered the court documents on Wednesday, spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb told KIRO TV he decided not to tell the public out of respect to the victim. “The answer is the victim gets this much added time to deal with the trauma they went through,” he told KIRO, adding that there was no public threat because the suspect was in custody. Our editorial comment: The victim’s privacy will be preserved regardless (rape victims’ names are never released), and it’s important the neighborhood knows about the incident precisely for public safety. This was an attack from a stranger, not someone she knew, and it happened in an area that’s seen a surge in crime over the last several months.
  • KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson, an outspoken critic of the city’s response to homelessness, interviewed the woman who fought off a sex offender in the Golden Gardens bathroom last year. “What do we have to do, fight these guys off one by one, put them in prison one by one, is that our responsibility to shoulder now, or is the city going to take care of us?” Kelly Heron said. “That’s what we pay for, right? …. Is it too much to ask for just a baseline of safety to live in the city to which you pay taxes?”
  • David Moody lives right across the alley from the Whittier Heights Village for Women, which is slated to open around the end of the month on 15th Ave. NW. He told KING 5 (video) that he’s worried the new homeless encampment will contribute to drug use and crime in the neighborhood. A LIHI volunteer disagrees. “I think we’d find out that there’s just as much crime with any other group,” he told KING 5.

Teel is being held in the King County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bail.

Woman raped in car dealership bathroom

Updated: A woman was raped inside the bathroom at Carter Volkswagen on Leary Way on Monday morning, according to court documents.

The 40-year-old woman had taken her car in for service just after 7 a.m. After getting some coffee, she went to the restroom, which is in a temporary area due to ongoing construction.

After following her into the women’s bathroom, a homeless man forced open the stall door despite the woman’s best efforts to hold it closed, according to the documents.

After hearing the commotion, employees ran to the bathroom, but the door was locked. According to the probable cause documents, the suspect admitted to locking the door after he walked in.

“They got the door open and a few employees came to her aid,” said Jennifer Moran, executive manager at Carter Volkswagen. “They detained him until police arrived.” A customer also helped detain the man.

The suspect was identified by KOMO News and Q13 as Christopher Edward Teel. Court documents say he admitted to the rape and was “resisting, aggressive and non-compliant” with officers. His address listed in the police report is “99999 Homeless St. Seattle.”

Teel is shown on King County Jail records as being booked for charges of rape, assault and unlawful imprisonment. He also shows a prior arrest for trespassing in a home in Magnolia.

A November story in the Seattle Times shows photos of a “Chris Teel” as a resident of Ballard Nickelsville. The man is shown getting ready for the move to the Northlake Nickelsville camp.

The woman was taken to Ballard Swedish Hospital.

“We’re shaken,” Moran told My Ballard, who says her thoughts are with the victim. “The effects on all the employees are no where near what this customer was assaulted is experiencing. There’s a widespread concern about her.”

Moran said she’s also concerned about the rising homelessness and crime in the neighborhood.

“We’re a company that’s been around since the 1960s, and nothing like this has happened,” she said. “We used to not see tents on the sidewalks, or part of the sidewalk, even a couple years ago. And now we do. We see an increased number of vehicles that people are living in. The challenge that creates — not all of them are bad and criminal, but some of them are. And we’re trying to navigate through that as employees and a business here in Ballard.”

It looks like the first tip about Monday morning’s rape — which occurred several hours before the head tax vote — appeared on the Safe Seattle Facebook page Tuesday evening. The first media reports appeared this morning.

Seattle Police has yet to post details about the crime online, as it typically does for newsworthy events. We have reached out to SPD, which has yet to respond.

“Ballard is such a great community,” Moran said. “I sure hope that something gets figured out and something changes, because what’s going on isn’t working and getting worse and it’s affecting us greatly.”

Monday’s rape is the latest in a series of crimes in the Leary Way area of Ballard. Last month a man was shot and killed just two blocks away from Carter Volkswagen. A week before that, a man was found murdered in a camper on 15th Ave. near the bridge. In November on Leary Way, a man was set on fire and critically injured.

Last year a sex offender was arrested for attempting to rape a woman in the Golden Garden’s restroom. He was sentenced in March.

(File photo from Google Maps)