Food truck owners write open letter to city about ‘massive increase’ in crime

The Ballard-based owners of the Cheese Wizards food truck have written a “plea for help” to Seattle civic leaders — which includes quotes from 14 other small businesses — about a sharp increase in property crime and vandalism.

“The small business community in Seattle is reeling from the absolute worst year we have ever experienced,” writes Bo Saxbe, who along with his brother Tom run Cheese Wizards. “I am writing to you on behalf of the entire community to beg for help. Property crime and vandalism is absolutely out of control.”

Saxbe says they’ve experience three major thefts “where our generator has been cut off the food truck” — twice in gated lots — which has tallied up to $14,000 in losses. On top of that, they’ve had two attempted burglaries in the last three months. In the last week, they said a burglar broke into the kitchen and robbed the safe of petty cash.

“The last calendar year we’ve had seven crimes committed against our business. Contrast that with just one in the previous five years,” explain Bo and Tom Saxbe in the letter.

The letter goes on to list testimonials from over a dozen other small businesses — food trucks and restaurants — throughout the city. While a couple business owners write of burglaries in Ballard, others say they’ve been hit repeatedly in Sodo, South Lake and the University District.

“Hallava has been vandalized every four days (on average) down in Sodo,” explained James Barrington of Hallava Falafel.

“We have experienced as many break-ins in our two parking lots in the last six weeks then we have in the last 10 years,” writes Keith Mathewson of KBM Commissary Kitchens in South Lake.

“We are witness to a massive failure by the city to protect us,” writes Saxbe in the letter. “We need to break the rings of thieves who are organized and ruthlessly targeting the smallest businesses. Current policy and resource allocation is allowing these predators to thrive in Seattle…. We need more police, right now.”

Saxbe sent My Ballard the letter, which he said was delivered to Mayor Jenny Durkan, the city councilmembers and acting police chief Carmen Best.

Mayor Durkan’s spokesperson, Stephanie Formas, responded to the letter and said the mayor has heard the concerns of small businesses and “will work closely with them to take action and keep our small businesses safe.” Formas also said SPD is doing a “data driven analysis” on crimes against food trucks, and the mayor “looks forward to meeting Mr. Saxbe soon to hear his concerns and the concerns of the micro-restaurant community.”

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Criminally Negligent City Leadership
Guest
Criminally Negligent City Leadership

Apparently these hardworking biz owners didn’t get the memo:

The City of Seattle doesn’t care about small business, commuter safety on buses and property security, or the health and well being of it’s citizens in urban areas after dark. The city’s priorities are strictly about generating revenue via absurd taxation and fees, re-zoning the city for the developers, and protecting it’s “sanctuary city” status to ensure a steady stream of dependents and entitlement users for the purpose of justifying the bloated budgetary excesses of Seattle and King County.

My heartfelt condolences to the biz owner victims who expected that their taxes would be used fairly to secure the peace and security of the city for it’s inhabitants, only to find that the city’s budget merely lines of the pockets of career politicians and their cronies providing “services” for the large population of nomadic junkie thieves.

Pork Pie
Member
Pork Pie

I can’t tell if you put “massive increase” in quote marks to belittle their perception or to simply quote them. Could you please clarify that? Thank you!

Pork Pie
Member
Pork Pie

Um, OK thanks! I know you won’t insult either of our intelligence by acting like sometimes folks subtly press their agendas by using quote marks as signals of belittlement But it’s great to know you aren’t doing that. Cheers.

Pork Pie
Member
Pork Pie

OOF…”by acting like sometimes folks *DON’T* subtly press their agendas…” Apologies for the typo.

susannah
Guest
susannah

I agree that we have a criminally negligent city government when it comes to dealing with crime, having enough police and adequate support services for homeless folks, the poor and the mentally ill—and for preserving the culture, history, landmarks and the (more or less) civilized, inclusive, laid back culture of old Seattle, which has been co-opted and screwed over by greedy land-developers, corporate hacks and apathetic voters who don’t give a damn that we’re all being stuffed into high-rent boxes. This once livable city has been turned over to Amazon, high-rises and high-rent apartment complexes, forcing out artists, students, and people of all generations who aren’t making a lot of money. Complaining about this sad state of affairs usually ends up with politicos and “progress” people saying “it’s selfish not to want your city to change”, totally disregarding the negative effects of over development, over-crowding and the loss of communities and community. Used to be that living and/or owning a small business in a neighborhood like Ballard meant something positive for the whole. Now we all are being told to go fuck ourselves if we want better police protection, more services for homeless, more of our tax dollars spent on… Read more »

Wpforms
Guest

That’s really strange and difficult to run business. It’s not that easy to run such business during night time and when such crimes go high, risk is also high.

Uff da
Guest
Uff da

We might also consider the “fail” on dealing with property crime is specifically lack of action by our District 6 City Council Rep. Mike O’Brien. He does not give a whit about business, business owners, or tax paying residents of this area. He is an obstructionist when it comes to enforcing laws and requesting and supporting adequate policing for public health and safety.

These are, by the way, among his primary duties as an elected official.

Weepy Mike
Guest
Weepy Mike

Evil capitalists! Mike O’Brien drinks your bourgeois tears!

Josh
Guest
Josh

Apparently Question of Intent is either bad at math or has his own trolling agenda. Directly quoting from the story –
““The last calendar year we’ve had seven crimes committed against our business. Contrast that with just one in the previous five years,” explain Bo and Tom Saxbe in the letter.”
I would think 7 crimes in the last year compared to one the previous 5 years would qualify as a “massive increase” but I guess when you are out promoting communist causes that fuzzy math can come in pretty handy.
I hope no one missed the story about Dow Constantine dismissing hundreds of property crime cases due to lack of funding while money is thrown all over the place for issues covering those who commit the crimes without any auditing of how the money is spent. Look for another tax increase coming soon.
PS – Have we found anyone who will run against O’Brien? Whom shall bell the cat?

Southeasterner
Member
Southeasterner

Past time for Ballard to leave Seattle and pursue deannexation. It’s been an interesting 111 year experiment but clearly time to regain our independence from an extremely dysfunctional city. Our overcrowded schools, streets, and transit can’t support the growth the city is throwing at us and they have absolutely no interest in protecting our community or addressing the homelessness “crisis” other than shipping hundreds of additional homeless people to our neighborhood from Cap Hill and downtown, while at the same time slashing police enforcement.

Greenwoodite
Guest
Greenwoodite

@Josh — I don’t think Dow Constantine has much to do with it. The decision to drop the cases was prosecutorial discretion. Dan Satterberg would be the man to look to. I assume that his budget is apportioned by the counsel, not the executive, though I’ll admit to being unfamiliar with the precise mechanics of county government. Still, like at most levels of government (and much to Trump’s chagrin), there’s a separation between the chief executive and the functions of law enforcement and prosecution.

None of that is to say that we don’t have a problem in the city/county. But it’s more complex than you make it out to be.

Paintking
Member
Paintking

The left needs a permanent underclass, along with chaos, to further their agenda(s). What’s REALLY troubling is the media going silent. There are real stories and enough blame here to go around. I guess they are too worried about not being called on at the next presser then? Dan Satterberg is dropping over 1,000 cases, due to “lack of funding” to prosecute. Nice to see our priorities are in line here. Perhaps mandatory license plates on all bikes can fund that? People ARE moving here from total shit holes and feel Ballard is awesome.Too funny. Having your car broken into or worse seems to be a rite of passage to some. We don’t need more laws. We need real leaders. Mike O’Brien: own YOUR mess

motts
Guest
motts

The city has very much turned a blind eye to small business and their issues. Small businesses contribute greatly to the vitality, job creation and individuality of the city and yet the city policies have been, well punitive.

The “so-called” social agenda isn’t working and appears to be contributing to the problem.

The grand “social experiment” has been implemented and now we have:

the highest homeless population and little derelict huts and encampments doting the city
high rates of crime and drug abusey during what would be considered an “economic boom time”.
emasculated police department
a city council with an agenda which appears better suited to the former east block of communist Europe

Wasn’t $15 Now supposed to lift all out of poverty and provide living wages for all? I suggest all it did was eliminate jobs for many and cause destitution through out the city.

Give a call to Mike O’Brien’s office.

You’ll get a very pleasant, non-committed, do nothing reply of ….”we’ll look into it” and “something must be done”.

Truth
Guest
Truth

I feel for these business owners, but they must realize that the problem is much bigger than can be solved by just throwing “more police, right now” at it. We need a lot of socio-economic changes that just can’t happen by itself on the local level and there’s currently zero desire to do anything at the national level.

We are the only first world country, and by far the wealthiest, that seems to not only have this bad of a problem, but also seemingly zero solutions to it. Maybe we should start offering thoughts and prayers to victims of property crime too?

@Scott: It’s people like you that are partially to blame. All (delusional) talk, no action and complete opposition to proven solutions. So the problem perpetuates.

Self-Trolling Crime and Corruption Apologists
Guest
Self-Trolling Crime and Corruption Apologists

@Truth
And here you are, right on cue, with some phony empathy for the biz owners followed up by some vague “first world country” shaming and a little personal attack on Scott to quickly follow. I don’t know how you do it, Truth, but once again you have the very worst take on the issue delivered in the rudest way possible.

Hey Genius, people leave developing countries (and regressing ones like parts of California) to escape rampant crime, filth and corruption. Making excuses for that crime and corruption here – when we’re close to “full employment” or as close as we can get in reality while being taxed to death – marks a whole new level of cognitive dissonance and self parody that would even shame most progressives.

Truly great. 5/5 Stars, Amigo!

Boring Opinions
Member
Boring Opinions

@Truth – So is your solution “Suck it up?” I’m trying to find a concrete something that we as a community could do, right now. Any ideas?

Truth
Guest
Truth

@Sockpuppet: Thanks for your “well thought out” response. Lack of substance and chock full of persecutory delusions, which seems to match your mental illness that you clearly haven’t gotten treated. And “taxed to death”? Good lord snowflake, you would die of exhaustion from complaining if you lived in any other first world country. Our tax rate is not only low, it’s well below the average for developed countries. We’re down with such great countries as Turkey and Mexico. The gradual increase of trickle down over the past 50 years has become a tsunami. But hey, it’s really our local councilmember’s fault for our national socio-economic situation!!!111 And I know Scott is probably mentally ill like yourself, but if he didn’t want pointed responses to his delusional rants, he wouldn’t offer it up on an open forum. He does, however, seems to take criticism much better than you. @Pork: Well, for one, the pearl-clutchers can stop fighting additional mental illness and drug treatment services, which would serve to help remove a large barrier preventing a lot of homeless from reentering society. Let’s start with that and then we’ll see where we go from there. Next would probably be justice and prison… Read more »

boater12
Member
boater12

The people running this city don’t care about you. They only care about their queer agenda and taxing the crap out of us for all their social programs helping the homeless and drug addicted and shoving their equality and inclusion crap down our throats. They’re totally out of touch with reality.

Beat:B1, ARMED ROBBERY at 56XX BLOCK OF 22 AV NW reported on 2/28/2018 12:40 AM
Guest
Beat:B1, ARMED ROBBERY at 56XX BLOCK OF 22 AV NW reported on 2/28/2018 12:40 AM

@Truth If I understand you correctly – after I filter out the flailing insults and moon-cycle hostility – you’re saying that national policies on criminal justice FORCES these scumbags to rip off local biz owners and deface/vandalize their property. Is that correct? So it’s all Reaganomics? Interesting, because if I open a history book I notice that crime existed prior to the 1980’s and the only remedy was law enforcement and vigilant parenting. It also looks like the Depression Era poverty did not seem to create a wave of absolute lawlessness. I could offer you reasons why, but I’m sure that’s all considered “hateful patriarchy” now. Huh. Weird. In any case, to you I guess personal responsibility and a code of ethics mean nothing. I guess I’ll go steal from your yard and blame Bush II and tell you to suck it up. Have you ever considered the possibility – and I know this is a stretch for someone who thinks that law abiding taxpayers are villains – that many junkie thieves are simply terrible people who do terrible things with impunity because we have a revolving door justice system in Seattle and a small, underfunded, and frequently vilified police… Read more »

Cheese Wizards
Guest
Cheese Wizards

Hey everyone, thanks for the comments about my letter and the support for small businesses that I am feeling from both sides of the issue. I was pleased and surprised to get a great response from our local media and I am sitting down with an aide to the Mayor soon to talk about my concerns in person. I’m also seeing some strong feelings about public safety and the larger socio-economic situation in America as a whole. I’d like to turn things down a notch and remind everyone that the purpose of my letter was to cast a light on an extremely local and immediate problem that is facing real people. It’s your neighbors and your local stores and restaurants, and yes, food trucks. We know there are a lot of factors driving crime and creating desperate people who do desperate and stupid things. As much as I’d like to fix things at a national level, I’m a small business owner and I am starting small. I think everybody, both conservatives and progressives, want less crime. I think everyone wants to see Mom and Pop places survive in their home towns. Can’t we all agree that giving our police the… Read more »

stopcrying
Guest
stopcrying

Instead of whining to the city about their inability to babysit your property for you, get yourself a hand gun and camp out in your food truck, restaurant, coffee shop, whatever your small business may be. Just be careful not to shoot the prick in the back and you’ll be fine. Man up, protect your property, and handle business. Our lame bureaucracy is not daddy.

susannah
Guest
susannah

Can’t believe what snarky, mean-spirited and dumb-ass comments (see Stopcrying) some people have posted here.

No, we don’t want small business owners camping out all night with guns. No, we don’t want drug addicts and jerks stealing our stuff. No, we don’t want over-worked police unable to respond quickly to crimes. No, we don’t want name-calling, back-biting and blame-gaming. No, we don’t want non-responsive city officials. No, we don’t want neighborhoods turning into over-developed high-rent enclaves. No, we don’t want a stifling class system of techno-yuppies serviced by downtrodden peons. No, we don’t want anger and divisiveness and more apathy or despair over how to fix our community problems.

We’re all in this together, no matter where we live in Seattle. It’s up to us to respectfully, bravely, intelligently determine a plan–and the funding and moral where-with-all to fund and utilize it–to make our community as safe, vibrant and good for everyone as possible. What we lack (and what Scandinavian countries generally have) is TRUST in one another, our city systems and government officials.

Until we work on that, we are screwed.

Kshama Sawanted
Guest
Kshama Sawanted

“I’m a small business owner and I am starting small.”

The petite bourgeoisie are the enemy of the people!

Newton
Member
Newton

Susannah, agreed. The Troll infestation on MyBallard is nothing short of remarkable.
Thanks to the Cheese Wizards for their letters. We too have seen an uptick in incidents in the last couple of years versus the previous 17 years we have lived in Ballard. I too have emailed the city officials. If you get together a neighborhood petition – I’ll sign it!