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.”