Burglaries up 69% inside Central Seattle parking garages

SPD's Mark Solomon (right) discuses garage security with property management at a First Hill condo (Image: CHS)

SPD’s Mark Solomon (right) discuses garage security with property management at a First Hill condo (Image: CHS)

So far this year, burglaries inside residential garages are up nearly 60% citywide, according to statistics from the Seattle Police Department.

In the East Precinct, which covers Capitol Hill and the Central District, the problem is even more dramatic: a 69% increase in break-ins compared to this time last year.

That makes it a key issue for Mark Solomon, one of three crime prevention coordinators at SPD. The crime prevention team visits buildings that are dealing with specific crime trends — a feature of SPD’s recent statistics based policing efforts. 911 calls are analyzed and ranked to see which addresses deal with the most repeat offenses. Solomon then makes a visit to assess how small design changes could improve safety.

Earlier this month, CHS was there when Solomon visited Kelleher House condos on First Hill. Property managers said garage break-ins were fairly common even though they didn’t always result in 911 calls as some people enter the garage just to find a place to sleep.

In his walk through, Solomon noted that the doors inside the garage that lead into building did not require an extra key. He also recommended using longer screws to secure door locks.SeaStat_ppt_20150916east

Some buildings have even resorted to fining tenants if they’re caught not waiting for garage doors to close. While fines aren’t in place at the Kelleher House, the management company for the condo, CWD Group, does impose $150 fines at other buildings.

“We never have repeat offenders,” said Paul Grucza, who handles tenant education for CWD Group.

Here’s what SPD says you can do to help make garage’s at your building more secure:

  • Take a moment and wait for the gate to close behind you. Bad guys like to slip in unnoticed while you are parking your car. Make it difficult for them by watching the doorway while the gate closes.
  • Remember to remove any items from your vehicle. Thieves don’t know that the gym bag on the back seat is full of sweaty gym socks. To them there is a chance you forgot your bag full of gold bars.
  • Help us, help you. If you see someone in the garage that shouldn’t be there, call 911. Don’t approach them, but do get a good description so officers can find them.

East Precinct, meanwhile, has had more success quelling other types of residential burglaries. “Traditional” burglary totals — often driven higher by prolific groups of thieves operating in specific areas of the city — are down 7% vs. 2014.

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4 thoughts on “Burglaries up 69% inside Central Seattle parking garages

  1. Burglary is usually a way to pay for drug abuse. Homes and jobs have no impact if you are a heroin addict. Kshama should be advocating mandatory rehab.

  2. I want to say two things that are somewhat related.

    1. I work in Montlake at a place with a small parking garage and over the past year or year and a half “smash and grab”-type car prowls have increased majorly. A lot of people have a false sense of security about the area because it seems so quiet and people will either keep their cars unlocked or keep valuables in view in a locked car. One lady had a purse with her wallet, phone, iPad and laptop stolen and the person didn’t even need to break a window, her car was unlocked. These types of crime are a crime of opportunity. Just because a neighborhood seems safe doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to safeguard your stuff no matter what. Shove even boring beach bags under a seat so you don’t have to spend all night on the phone with your insurance company over a broken window.

    2. RENTERS INSURANCE IS AMAZING AND CHEAP. It’s unfortunate that a lot of people, myself included, wait for something to happen before they get renters insurance. I now pay $10/month and while I haven’t had to use it yet, the peace of mind I have is great and it’s worth it to not have to go through what I experienced when my Public Storage storage unit was burglarized. Please oh please get renters insurance if you don’t have it already.