Four cars stolen in Queen Anne last week

Yesterday we received this note from Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention officer Terrie Johnston. She reviews the police incident reports on a daily basis, and while doing so noticed an alarming trend over the last week in our area:

Today upon reviewing the reported crime for Queen Anne and Magnolia, I noticed that in the past 7 days there were three vehicles stolen from Magnolia (Volvo SW; Toyota Highlander and an Acura Integra) and 4 vehicles stolen from Queen Anne (2 Subaru Legacys; KIA Rio; and a BMW).  This is in addition to a theft of a license plate on Queen Anne, and several car prowls.  I found that number of incidents to be abnormally high.  I phoned the Auto Theft Sergeant and he said  the number of Auto Thefts in Seattle are down, and have been decreasing steadily.  In fact, we are at nearly 1/3 of the number of Auto Thefts which occurred in 2005.  However, we agreed that there are some simple things we can do to try and prevent becoming a victim of auto theft.

This sergeant reports that he uses a steering wheel locking device on every car he owns, and he uses the device, every time he parks his car.  These devices act as a good visual deterrent.  They are just one more thing the thief has to disable in an attempt to steal the vehicle. There are also a variety of locking metal devices that can disable everything from your gearshift, gas pedal, brake pedal, hood, tires, etc.

Johnston also suggests a few other tips for keeping your cars safe from prowls and thefts. “If you have a garage, use it. Park your car in there!” she writes. “Keep the garage and any other doors leading into the garage locked, and keep car doors locked inside the garage.”

According to Johnston, two-thirds of all auto thefts occur at night. Because of this, installing motion-sensitive lighting around car ports, driveways, parking areas and alleyways may help deter thieves from targeting those cars. She also recommends that residents leave their front porch lights on from dusk until dawn.

Cars are often stolen for their parts (including airbags). It can take an expert thief as little as seven seconds and one screwdriver to break into a vehicle, and less than one minute to drive away.  Please be vigilant for strangers on your block, trying door handles, looking into vehicles.  You can call 9-1-1 to report suspicious activity.

Queen Anne block watch assists in burglar arrest

One of the block watch groups here in Queen Anne, alongside a number of neighbors, aided police in the arrest of a burglar on Tuesday morning. From Seattle Police Department crime prevention officer Terrie Johnston:

This Tuesday morning, around 10 a.m. a woman on W. Comstock heard the sound of breaking glass nearby. She then saw a white male, in his 40’s running towards her. She attempted to talk w/the man, but he assured her all was fine and he got into a van and drove off. The witness was able to get a license plate and 9-1-1 was called. Many patrol units responded to the area.  About 20 mins. later a West Precinct supervisor found the abandoned van on 4th Ave. N. on the northern slope of Queen Anne hill. He ordered the van impounded. Astute block watchers on 4th Ave. N. called in suspicious activity and reported to 9-1-1 that the suspect got into an orange cab. West Precinct Burglary Theft Detectives monitoring the police radio recognized the description of this prolific criminal. They called the cab company and learned the suspect had been dropped in Belltown. Det. Owing and Det. Gaedcke found and arrested the burglar in Belltown shortly thereafter.

So many thanks to the witnesses who provided us w/suspect & vehicle descriptions, license plate numbers, and the information on the taxi cab. This was a great team effort between the community, patrol and the outstanding detectives!

As it turns out, Det. Owing is investigating some commercial burglaries that may now be solved with this arrest.

PS:  The breaking glass mentioned above was from the suspect’s attempt to break out a 4’ x4’ double-paned, aluminum-framed basement window. Because there was so much glass involved, it most likely deterred this burglar from entering the home. Call me to schedule a free home security assessment of your home, or to start/re-kindle your Block Watch. I can make recommendations on window treatments and security films that can make your glass stronger.

This is good work!!

For more information on other measures you can take to protect your home against residential burglaries, take a look at these tips from SPD.

December crime/burglary update for Queen Anne

The Seattle Police Department’s west precinct may be losing its crime prevention coordinator come April 1, but until then Terrie Johnston is continuing with her monthly crime and burglary recaps for the community. Check our her full letter to the community regarding crime in Queen Anne this December here:

Hi, I wanted to share information I gleaned from residential burglaries reported this month of December.  It is not unusual to see slight increases in property crimes during the holidays. Why might this happen?  People are often scurrying about shopping, going to parties, etc.  and our social calendars can become fuller at year’s end.  That can mean we don’t pay full attention to security and safety.  Add to that, many people go out of town during the season; school is out; and there are gifts everywhere (in cars; under the tree; sitting on front porches).  You get the picture.  So let’s look at some of the significant points for December’s burglaries so far.

The majority of the burglaries still occured during the daytime hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. A common method of entry was using something in the yard to gain access to the windows, i.e. a garbage can was turned upside down to reach a window; an outside stool was strategically placed under a window and used as stairs; the victim’s step-ladder was used to gain access to the 2nd floor balcony where the thieves entered through an unlocked sliding door.  In a few burglaries, entry was believed to have been made through the dog door.  Several entries were made through unlocked windows.  One victim went for a short run and left the front door unlocked and came home to a completed burglary. Thieves came into an unlocked  garage door and stole all the food from the freezer;  another victim reported that he fell asleep with his front door unlocked.  This allowed the crook(s) to enter, remove the vehicle’s remote from the ashtray on the table by the front door.  That car was then prowled.  In another burglary, a concealed side door was kicked in, shattering the door frame.  In one incident, the home owners returned mid-day and discovered the burglars in their home.

Here are some of the items reported stolen this month: 9 mm pistol; laptops, money, cameras; heavy stereo speakers; 42” flat screen TV; electronics, jewelry & sewing machine, and wrapped Christmas gifts.  It’s hard to imagine how some of those bigger items were removed unseen.  Was more than one thief involved?  Did they use a car?  A look out?  Please do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 if on your block you see unknown people, with heavy backpacks or a stuffed pillow case (as was done in a burglary last week) acting suspiciously or unknown cars in your neighbor’s driveway when they are gone.  Trust your gut!

My tips: Use the locks and latches you have.  Be religious about locking up, even if you are only going to be away for a brief time.   Keep shrubbery pruned back so neighbors can see onto your property.  Get a house sitter if you will be away.  Start or rekindle your Block Watch so your neighbors can be invited to watch out for your home when you cannot be there.  Lock up or store out-of-sight any ladders, sawhorses, etc.  Close your blinds in the rooms where there are desirable electronics when you are away.   Do not hesitate to report anything suspicious to 9-1-1, even if it isn’t an emergency.  Call me if you would like a free home security survey conducted.  Thank you for sharing this information with your neighbors and Block Watch contacts.

For more information contact Terrie directly at the Seattle Police Crime Prevention number, 206-684-4741, or via email at

Queen Anne could lose crime prevention coordinator

The people who work directly with our neighborhood in preventing crime could soon be out of a job.  The six civilian crime prevention coordinators for the Seattle Police Department, including West Precinct and Queen Anne coordinator Terrie Johnston, have been told they’ll lose their jobs next spring when grant money runs out.

The crime prevention coordinators work directly with residents doing everything from setting up block watches to going door to door to warn about recent crimes. They’ve been part of the police budget up until last October, when the positions then became paid for with federal grant money. That ends on March 31 of next year.

“We are the link between the community and the police department,” Terrie Johnston (pictured right) told us. “Patrol officers are often promoted or transfer out. We’re the ones in people’s living rooms and churches.”

Johnston and her fellow coordinators have logged hundreds of community meetings over the past year. She worries that officers and precinct bosses won’t be able to give residents one on one attention if the crime prevention coordinators are let go.

“When we’re gone, who will take the time?”

Councilmember Tim Burgess, who chairs the Public Safety and Education committee, tells us his office is closely tracking the issue as it heads toward the mayor and council. If you’d like to voice your opinions, here’s a link to the mayor and City Council.