As one major Capitol Hill theft case comes to a close after years of investigation and legal proceedings, SPD also announced a smaller bust that might also connect with criminal activity in Pike/Pine.
Thursday, detectives raided a South Seattle convenience store and seized “boxes and boxes of suspected stolen cellphones, laptops and cameras” —
Along with the more than 250 smartphones and hundreds of cameras, computers, watches and instruments found in the store – a number of which Robbery Detectives have already tied to crimes in Rainier Beach – detectives also found $13,000 in cash, boxes of untaxed cigarettes illegally imported from Vietnam, and cabinets filled with bags of Khat (a plant leaf stimulant classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule-1 controlled substance).
Detectives believe the items are connected to a surge of robberies in South Seattle this summer. But it’s also likely that items ripped off around the city made its way to the store.
In September, CHS reported on the hot crime market for stolen smartphones helping to drive another surge in robberies around Pike/Pine. At the time, we described some of the mechanics of a Pike/Pine phone robbery:
A group of teens will stake out an area and watch for an opportunity to single out one or two victims away from busy streets and passersby. They’ll attempt to take that person’s property in the easiest way possible. Sometimes, it’s simply running up and grabbing the phone or wallet. Other times, there is a confrontation and physical violence. If it comes to it, one of the group may be armed with a gun or a knife to make sure the job gets done. The line between the types of crime sometimes can be how the victim reacts. An added, thieve-y bonus: Victims are left without any means to quickly contact police.
One added element reported by witnesses and confirmed by police working in East Precinct are adults who sometimes seem to be directing the young thieves actions or providing a type of management for various types of street crimes.
SPD’s report on last week’s bust — they are asking that the Rainier Beach shop’s location not be divulged until the investigation is complete — documents a volume of goods that likely connect to crimes beyond South Seattle:
As one detective piled laptops and tablets on a small table in the middle of the shop, Sgt. Daman nodded toward a dimly lit hallway on the northeast corner of the store. “That’s just part of it. That back room’s full of more.”
“Our officers are working hard find individuals and businesses driving the crimes hurting our communities,” SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole is quoted as saying in SPD’s announcement of the bust. “We’re going to go after anyone creating the market for stolen goods.”