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Burst of overnight street robberies and a gunpoint carjacking reported on Capitol Hill — UPDATE

Following just over two weeks of relative calm, the streets around Capitol Hill became a dangerous place early Thursday for pedestrians and drivers alike with a string of robberies reported on the rainy night including a gunpoint carjacking at 10th and Seneca. UPDATE: Police say the incidents may be related.

All information below is preliminary and based on East Precinct radio dispatches and witnesses. We will update when we learn more. UPDATE: SPD said its report system was down earlier today. We’ll try to find out more when the system is again available. UPDATE x3: SPD has released a statement on the robberies:

SPD Robbery Detectives believe some of these incidents may be tied to a recent string of robberies around Capitol Hill, which led the department to increase the number of officers working near the busy nightlife district around the Pike/Pine/Broadway corridor. This week Chief O’Toole and other SPD commanders have engaged in a series of meetings with federal and county law enforcement partners to develop a citywide strategy to combat this trend.

The full statement is at the end of this post.

UPDATE x2: Here’s a graph showing robbery and pickpocket incidents in the beats covering Capitol Hill from August 1st through today:robbery

Police were called to the short strip of E Seneca near IHOP Thursday morning around 12:30 AM after the reported armed carjacking of a 2011 Ford Fusion. The victim told police that two young thieves held him up and stole the silver car and his phone before speeding away on Madison toward I-5. The suspects were described as two teens, both black males with light complexions, one with a “5-inch” afro, the other packing the handgun used in the carjacking. UPDATE: Police say the victim was pistol-whipped and also had his wallet taken during the robbery.

About an hour later, police tracked the victim’s phone to an area three blocks away, according to East Precinct radio dispatches, but we don’t know if either the phone or the car were recovered. There were no reported injuries.

Only 15 minutes before the reported carjacking, a man told police he had been robbed at Boylston and Pine by three black males in their 20s wearing dark clothes who robbed him of his wallet, car keys, and phone. The victim said the males put something hard to his head during the robbery but he could not see if it was a gun. The thieves also reportedly stole his blue rain jacket on the rainy night.

Later in the morning, a group of five males and a female were reported to have held up a victim at gunpoint on the west side of Cal Anderson on Nagle near Howell. The victim walked to the East Precinct front desk at 12th and Pine to report the 1:15 AM crime. The victim told police that the group of five black males and a white female with blonde hair took his wallet and phone at gunpoint before leaving the area northbound on Broadway. One male in the group reportedly wore a red baseball hat. Police were told the thieves may have doubled-back to the south and contacted a group in the Harvard Market parking lot above Pike/Broadway. The group was interviewed and released and there were no arrests.

In another reported incident, just before 4 AM, a male victim waved down an officer near 11th and Union and reported he had been mugged of his phone by three black males in their teens or 20s who had punched him in the head during the strong-arm robbery. One of the suspects was reported to have a scar on his face and was wearing a red shirt and jeans. There were no arrests.

The burst of robberies comes following early September’s push to increase police presence and deploy gang units around Pike/Pine to quell a rise in street crime in the area. In an update to the community council last week, East Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis said the increased patrols would continue. “We understood,” Davis said. “We have increased the presence of police out there tenfold.” Pike/Pine’s ongoing rise in street robberies and violence over the past year is part of a larger crime trend in Central Seattle and downtown, police say.

UPDATE: SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole will be at Thursday night’s East Precinct Advisory Council’s September meeting:

Seattle police Chief Kathleen O’Toole is committed to responding to citizens regarding public safety and life quality in our communities.
This Thursday is your chance to ask the Chief questions and express your concerns.

In order to ensure equal time for all, we are requesting that everyone submit their concerns and questions in advance, if possible. Please email eastpacinfo@gmail.com
The important thing is that you attend, we will have opportunities for citizen input at the meeting!

EastPAC Community Meeting
Thursday, September 25th, 6:30 to 8:00 PM
Seattle University, Chardin Hall, room 142
1020 East Jefferson (enter at 11th and Jefferson, park free in front of building)

UPDATE: Here is the full statement from SPD on the robberies:

East Precinct officers are investigating possible connections between a series of armed robberies this week, including two carjackings.

The spree of five robberies started when three young suspects stole a man’s car at gunpointTuesday night in the 1400 block of South Main Street of the Central District. Police believe some of the same young suspects may have been involved in a second car theft shortly about 12:30 AM on Thursday.

In that incident, two suspects approached a man as he was getting in his car near 10th Avenue and Seneca Street on First Hill. The suspects then ordered the man out of his car at gunpoint before pistol-whipping him. The teens took man’s phone and wallet, and fled in his car.

Investigators are also examining whether the suspects in the two carjackings may have been involved in three other robberies on First Hill and Capitol Hill early Thursday:

  • A victim reported being robbed around 12:25 AM by three young men as he was walking north on the 1500 block of Boylston Avenue on First Hill. One of them held a gun to the back of his head and told the victim to empty his pockets.
  • Less than an hour later, around 1:15 AM, a man reported being robbed at gun point near Nagle Place and East Howell Street on Capitol Hill. The victim told police the suspect held a handgun to his neck and took items from his pockets. The victim said the suspect was accompanied by four other men and one woman.
  • At 3:30 AM a victim flagged down a police officer to report he had been robbed by three men while walking near 11th Avenue and East Union Street on Capitol Hill. The suspects punched the victim in the head and took his cellphone before fleeing. The victim described one suspect as a black male, around 20, with a scar on his face wearing a red T-shirt and jeans.

SPD Robbery Detectives believe some of these incidents may be tied to a recent string of robberies around Capitol Hill, which led the department to increase the number of officers working near the busy nightlife district around the Pike/Pine/Broadway corridor.

This week Chief O’Toole and other SPD commanders have engaged in a series of meetings with federal and county law enforcement partners to develop a citywide strategy to combat this trend.

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56 thoughts on “Burst of overnight street robberies and a gunpoint carjacking reported on Capitol Hill — UPDATE” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

    • Right???
      “The group was interviewed and released and there were no arrests.”
      WHY? Not even detained officially for questioning?

      • I believe the report says that the group of thieves might have contacted a second group at Harvard Market, and it is the latter group that was interviewed and released.

  1. This is becoming really concerning. Last weekend was the first time I felt unsafe walking home alone on the hill. I passed a group of guys Friday night in that alleyway at SCCC that started pointing at me as I passed by. Had one of those moments where the hair raises on the back of your neck. A nice lady on a bike luckily pulled up and yelled “Hey, watch out for those guys. I’m watching you!” They immediately turned back around and kept walking toward Cal Anderson.

    This shit needs to stop.

  2. The cops I saw leaving work last week at midnight were wearing florescent vests. While I appreciate that I could recognize them quickly if I were in trouble, I feel that stopping these kids before the crime happens is the goal here. These kids are generally in the same area, hanging out in alley’s. This doesn’t seem like rocket science to catch them.

  3. It’s sad. I’ve lived on the Hill for 8 years and loved the neighborhood and my loft. But the last three years, the crime has been getting so bad enough and the explosion of uncontrolled nightlife I couldn’t stand it any more and sold my place and moved. What killed me was that I lived 500 ft from the police station and shooting and stabbings happening less than a block away. If felt like people were committing these crimes like counting coup…how close can I commit a crime to the station and get away with it.

    • I hear you.
      I loved my place there too, and was sad to leave. But even in the city, and especially so close to a Police Station, I expected not to get my vehicle vandalized, my child harassed and literally have to run from the car to my door when I got home after dark (hell, or day time for that matter). Its a sorry state of affairs.

      • Sadly, I’m moving off the hill for pretty much the same reasons. Also rent is just out of control. It’s been nice knowing you for the last 10 years Cap Hill. Good Luck!

  4. Seems the criminals are showing the cops that they are “the boss” in this situation and have upped their game. We need some plain clothed officers hanging in places where they crooks feel comfortable jacking people. Hang out alone with an iPhone or an iPad in your hand at Cal Anderson. You’ll catch you a crooked fish within minutes.

    • From what I understand, there were some “plain clothes” units in the area providing support for the investigating officers. But information didn’t result in arrests.

  5. I don’t think it is that hard to spot the blonde girl with the 5 black guys. I want to say I’ve seen this group before in the alleyway behind SCCC and Cal Anderson park during the day. A group of them were in a car and two of them were arguing, violently pushing and pulling each other to get in the car because the car was full. Then there was this blonde girl in the backseat just laughing hysterically. I remember her because her blonde hair stood out from the darkness. At first I thought she was in trouble, but after she laughed, I realized, she was with them.

      • Yes, those of you who know who the inveterate troublemakers are, please take pictures and post so the rest of us can look out for them.

    • Oh so you have seen them and you know were they have been hanging out. Have you contacted the police or are you pulling shit out of your ass?

      • The group with the girl has been behind the basketball courts at Cal Anderson for ~2 weeks. She’s new.

        I won’t let friends walk by that spot alone. I don’t project ‘victim’ and usually feel safe just about anywhere, but that spot is ridiculous.

    • Maybe you should give that info to the police. Even knowing what kind of car could help implicate them in other crimes or lead back to their identities.

    • If you frequent Cal Anderson with any regularity, you know exactly who these kids are. I got mean mugged by one last night behind SCCC, too. They are the worst–they are young and super reckless. I told a cop that was chilling by the playground about them a week ago and he said that some people just “aren’t used to living in an urban environment”. I’m sorry, what? I’ve lived on the hill 15 years, Seattle for my full 33. It was infuriating.

  6. Man, these crooks seem like such piles of shit. I hope they get their asses kicked before they get arrested.

    I’m sure the PC crowd will hate me for this but can you imagine how skanky that blonde in this story is? LOL

    • I guess you are right. Some people who may be more PC than you do hate you for saying idiotic statements like that.

      You sound like a complete idiot.

    • I see what you did there. You managed to fit racism and sexism in one joke by playing on really tired stereotypes. Calling those who don’t “LOL” at it “PC” is I guess one way to feel okay about that, I guess.

    • Not all cops are bad and not everyone a cop stops and beats up is bad either. The policing strategy for Seattle needs to be changed and upgraded. Anyone who tries to boil down the past problems with this city and its police force into simple concepts, has no clue what it means to be a cop or a concerned citizen.

    • “What do you expect when you criminalize the police for enforcing basic laws and treat dangerous criminals as victimized saints?”

      Exactly. You get the kind of society you demand.

  7. I remember about this time last year a controversy over SPD employing a wireless network of surveillance cameras downtown, West Seattle and the waterfront. Public opposition to this idea was so strong that the network of cameras were never turned on. Perhaps Capitol Hill should petition City Hall and SPD to have some of those cameras, especially along Alki, relocated to these high crime areas of The Hill. I don’t mind having the police reviewing surveillance video of me picking my nose in public if it means they can also review the time and location of a crime being committed.

    • I totally agree this should be done, and as for the crime in Alki and them other ares that opposed to them being there {Video Cameras}, they never would have made much of an impact since crime is at an all time low there anyways. But alas, we see the blunder here of our city leaders and it seems that until we get some real leaders to replace those that are there just pulling a check, that nothing will ever come out of that arena and that they will never be able quell the crime on the Hills, mostly because the leaders are incompetent and totally kaput .

  8. So there are papers done on this.. When a police department gets knocked down for being too rough they pull back. Crime rises and the public outcries become large about how the PD has become soft or ineffective.. It’s like clockwork… So what do you we want? A soft ineffective police department or one that can actually do their job and scare back crime like they were doing before the DOJ and city came cracking down on them…

    • There are also papers done on effective policing and effective police strategies that minimize police brutality on innocent people and focus on foot patroling of areas in order to reconnect with the public. It’s not black and white.

      • Pretty sure these punks have continued unscathed because the police have handled them with ‘minimal brutality’ and ‘reconnected’ with them via foot patrols in lieu of actually policing them.

  9. I feel sick. I think I may have heard that guy get punched in the head. It’s really weird, but I came on this site tonight to convince myself the strange sound I’d heard was NOT someone getting punched in the head–because if you don’t see it on CHS it didn’t happen, right? :) –but now I see that someone actually DID get punched in the head at that time/area.

    There is so much that I love about this neighborhood, chiefly being able to walk everywhere and the good energy of all the other people out on the street. These crimes have changed my behavior the past couple months for sure. I go out less now, go out of my way to avoid the Pike/Broadway area (not easy since I live by it) and try not to go out after 10 or so if I don’t have to. The scenery is better and there are fewer home invasions, but it feels like I’m back in my old neighborhood in DC. :(

  10. The recent increase in crime in Capitol Hill is due to the huge sudden increase in popularity it has been gaining with the nightlife scene in Washington and the gentrification of hard young working professionals moving into the neighborhood the past 3 years. So with that said it makes it easy for the less fortunate to rob the more fortunate. Especially in over populated area late at night when folks are leaving clubs and bars or walking a couple blocks down the street to get home. If Capitol Hill wasn’t such a popular place to be I highly doubt these crimes would be taking place as much as it has.

    • These crimes are not being committed by the less fortunate! When will you all drop these foolish narratives?
      The kids doing this live rent free, are properly clothed and fed, and their even allowed to indulge in violence, sexual assault, and robbery with no consequence. I’d say their quite priviliged, wouldn’t you?

      • Do you really think they’re out joy robbing? Come on. Less fortunate can also mean they have clothes, a roof, and some balogna sandwiches.

      • Are you truly this naive? I KNOW they are joy robbing. I’ve interacted with them on a regular basis.
        Good grief this is becoming like a comedy routine.

      • I don’t know their names. I’ve had numerous altercations with the same group at the same spots. I know their not robbing people because they need to, but because they can. That’s all I was saying, you invertebrate.

      • What exactly are you implying? That this nonsense isn’t happening? Who’s “blowing smoke?” How often are you walking home from work at 3am on cap hill?

      • I think we should stop calling them “kids.” That word implies they are not responsible for their actions. They are CRIMINALS, for god’s sake!

    • The same thing happens in the U District every school year. A new crop of students means a new set of well funded marks who don’t have any street smarts and like to stumble home drunk after midnight.

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  12. 1) Cops not doing their jobs properly should result in reprimands and swift punishment. Period.

    2) Per capita, Seattle’s police force is tiny. as in not sufficient, especially in hotspot areas such as downtown/Belltown/U District, Pioneer Square and… Capitol Hill. We don’t need a police state or belligerent cops. We need balance with sufficient levels of policing and PROFESSIONAL cops. Too much game-playing regarding their work and bosses amongst too many of our police who are dissatisfied with… whatever

    3) Pike /Pine, Cal Anderson Park and SCCC area should all be VERY-high-police-presence spots, especially after dark. They are not and it’s inexcusable.

    4) Murray needs to hire more cops NOW. NOW. And deploy at least 8 additional beat cops (walking) around Pike/Pine and Broadway/Pine. Ditto Pioneer Square. Twice, I’ve phoned SPD in the last 12 months only to have them show up well after fights had moved or dissipated. And, the fights were IN THE HEART of Pike/Pine and Pioneer Square, at prime ‘partying time’. WTF? In the pioneer square incident, the cops never even got out of their patrol car. Unacceptable.

    5) Our police precincts are a complete joke. They are uninviting, to say the least. They do not open to the street so they’d act as a detterent. They are not particularly well lit or identified. Seattle should embark on a program to reinvent the police precinct with buildings that visually invite the public in, have MUCH BETTER SIGNAGE and visual impact, encourage foot traffic and lingering of their employees (with coff cafés in or adjacent to them?) and build a relationship with the community they are here to protect (using our tax dollars)

    6) Lastly, and ever so ridiculously obvious (for all city’s, not just Seattle), all cops hired, starting today, should be required to live within the city of Seattle. Period. Philly does it. Chicago does it. There could even be assistance programs that work with police to find them adequate housing and offer loans/grants.

    This stuff isn’t rocket science but our leaders seem far from capable of coming up with the solutions needed and sticking to them. Never mind the implications of a city where soaring housing costs are causing greater economic divides that only agitate the situation massively by contributing to the root causes for a lot of the robbery and violence we see all over The Hill and beyond now.

    I can only hope Chief O’Toole can be allowed to deliver on her plans. She seems promising. City Council… WAKE UP!!!

  13. It’s always interesting to see people who suddenly want more police are usually the same ones who don’t want to raise taxes to pay for them!

    • Ron, Even more interesting?
      a) you are assuming a lot with your statement. You don’t know what I and other posters are thinking, regarding how to pay for more police. Yet you decide to draw your own conclusions. You’re entitled but you’re also opening yourself up to criticism for being so presumptuous.
      b) you appear to assume that an increase in our population (new residents = new tax sources using existing tax rates) and a very significant increase in business activity, real estate activity (including windfall-ish real estate transfers) don’t generate additional income, some of which could and should be used to keep us safe.

      Before posting your political agenda, maybe pause and think first ;-)

  14. Once again, be careful what you wish for. There’s no doubt that for better or worse the Hillsters and other ike minded citizens have succeded in whipping the fight right out of the Seattle PD. It takes a lot of mojo for the cops to run these guys down on foot like they used to, which is the only way to get them, but which usually ends with a physical altercation, and after the extended public beat down the cops have been getting, its pretty clear they just don’t have it in them anymore. A couple years ago they wouldn’t have been caught dead patrolling in reflective vests, are you kidding me, what’s next making them patrol with their underware on the outside of their pants? Its ridiculous, but that’s where we’re at folks. I just parked my Bruno Maglis in favor of a new pair of black Nike cross fits and I suggest anyone else out after midnight do the same. We’re in this for the long haul now, once CYA replaces moxie in an organization, its a long road if ever to get it back…

  15. The “5 black guys and one blond white woman” are standing in front of the QFC at Pike and Broadway RIGHT NOW.

    Not rocket science….same ones from Cal Anderson.

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