When Seattle Police tracked a stolen iPad to a Capitol Hill house in 2012, they uncovered much more than a one-off theft. Charging documents and police reports allege Rabindranath Darling was running a sophisticated operation to buy goods he knew to be stolen then sell those items on eBay from the 12th and Mercer home he shared with his wife.
As a front for his illicit business, investigators say Rabindranath Darling ran a home-based computer repair shop. CHS has learned that some of the allegedly stolen items seized in 2012 from Darling’s 12th and Mercer house are finally being returned to their rightful owners including victims of burglaries across Capitol Hill. Court hearings in the case got underway this summer; Darling’s next hearing is scheduled this week. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in September.
The Darlings told CHS they did not want to comment for this story as Rabindranath’s court case is ongoing.
CHS learned about the unfolding criminal proceedings thanks to a surprising connection to the 12th Ave case. We received notification that a laptop ripped off from CHS in the summer of 2012 had been recovered by police and was now being released. Our laptop, we were surprised to learn, was somehow part of the evidence from that mysterious police operation on 12th Ave that included piles of computers and electronics being carted off in the night years earlier. Police at the time said they had uncovered a “major stolen property trafficking operation” — but nobody was immediately charged with a crime.
The currently unfolding court case against Darling stems from an incident that led to that 12th Ave raid when a burglary victim used the “Find My iPad” app to track his stolen device to Darling’s Capitol Hill home. There, police found a garage, shed, and basement filled with a range of expensive items that an SPD officer reported “would have made any reasonable person believe the property was stolen.”
Computers, tools, and bikes with an estimated worth of “well in excess of $100,000″ were allegedly found throughout the Capitol Hill property. Police reported finding an outdoor shed filled with professional grade musical mixing equipment, scuba gear, Tiffany brand jewelry, and “a large amount of one brand of makeup.” Boxes in the basement contained Rolex watches and expensive data storage equipment. Many items would later be traced to past burglaries around Seattle, including several items purchased with a stolen credit card.
As police handcuffed Darling, he yelled, “Call the lawyers” to his wife. He was booked into King County Jail without incident, according to police reports.
SPD had to rent a tractor trailer just to transport a portion of the items into evidence following Darling’s arrest. But despite the massive haul with dozens of those items allegedly linked to past burglaries, Darling is charged only for handling a few allegedly stolen items. Darling faces four counts of trafficking stolen property, one count of possessing stolen property, and a drug possession charge for 18 grams of methamphetamine found in his house during the initial iPad search.
Investigators later found thousands of eBay listings from a user “streamline6868″ — an account police say they can link to Darling — including many suspicious items like gift cards and computers that had been specially unlocked.
Notes found at the Darling home and documented by police offer a glimpse into how the couple allegedly operated the ring. One note attached to an eBay entry for computer parts shipped to the Darlings and signed by Darling’s wife said “he agree to unlock all bios/locked logic boards for $50 dollars from this point forward.” Another from November 2011 read, “Where the F(redacted) are our diamonds? I told C(redacted) that I would have a definitive answer for him or I would pay him any amount which he sees fit by Monday 11/7/2011 without fail.”
Rabindranath Darling has never been convicted of stealing or selling stolen goods. Certainly there are legitimate eBay sellers who turn-and-burn expensive items, including computers and bikes. But this was not Darling’s first brush with the law in regards to his home-based sales. In 2011 and earlier in 2012, police found Darling had used eBay to sell three high-end bicycles reported stolen in Seattle. At the time Darling said he bought the items off Craigslist, but could not provide police with any proof — no email exchanges, no phone numbers, and no descriptions of the seller. Darling’s eBay account is no longer active, but an image on the account page asks buyers to email him for his new ID.
One of the stolen bike victims notified CHS about Darling’s suspicious online sales months before his arrest.
While Darling’s SPD interactions date back to 2011, documentation of his online activities we found go back to 2009 when his name and eBay ID were flagged on the site Ripoffreport.com by an eBay user who said Darling sold a busted laptop that he described as being in “perfect” condition.
This week’s hearing comes after another continuance in January as attorneys work out a schedule for the case. “This case involves voluminous discovery,” a document filed in January reads. “It has taken several meetings to complete review.”