Walking with Tica: Crime and safety edition

Neighbors walking their dogs can be helpful as a crime watch force in the neighborhood. Photo by melanie b.
Neighbors walking their dogs can be helpful as a crime watch force in the neighborhood. Photo by melanie b.
Like most of you, I’ve been following the posts and news stories about break-ins, robberies, car prowls, and other crimes in and around our neighborhood.  One of our close neighbors had their car window smashed in a few weeks ago—and none of us heard a thing.  I try to balance between wariness and paranoia, common sense and complacency.  Mostly, I try to focus on what I can do to keep our community as safe as possible.

Many people travel during December, leaving their homes for a few days or weeks.  I encourage you to consider a safety plan for your home while making your travel plans.   Here are a couple of sites with basic safety/crime prevention tips, and here’s my list:

  • Inform your immediate neighbors that you’re going to be gone and ask them to keep an eye on your car and the exterior of your house.
  • Lock everything—windows, doors, sheds/garages, cars.
  • Leave keys (house and car) with at least one trusted neighbor, along with local emergency contacts and a way to reach you while you’re gone.
  • For short trips, ask someone to check your mail—just so that there’s foot traffic up and down your porch and to prevent possible mail/identity theft.
  • Ask someone to brush leaves/snow off your car or to keep an eye on your garage.
  • For longer trips, either put a hold on mail and paper delivery or ask someone to pick up daily (same with the promotional materials people leave on doorknobs, yellow page books, and other deliveries).
  • Keep things normal: consider putting a couple of lamps on a timer; if you have holiday lights or use exterior lights, put them on a timer, too; ask someone to bring trash/recycle/yard waste cans to the curb and back.
  • If you’re planning to be away for more than a few days, consider asking someone to come in and check on your house. There are some very responsible teenagers in our neighborhood.
  • Find someone you trust to stay in your house.  Check references and have your neighbors check in on this person.
  • If you have pets, you’ll need to take them into consideration as well; these tips are for property safety only.  Special considerations for pets: let your vet know you’re traveling and leave a check or credit card number with them in case of emergency; make sure your pet-sitter has access to travel carriers and driving directions to the emergency clinic; keep copies of pet license numbers and/or microchip numbers current.

Our entire community is safer when we get to know each other.  Offer to help your neighbors, and ask for help.  Bring in the trash cans for an elderly neighbor, deliver cookies to a newcomer, and talk to people when you see them outside.   If you see something suspicious or have concerns, share them—not just with the neighborhood mailing list or the blog, but with the household involved.

Those of us with dogs spend a lot more time on the sidewalk than most people—especially now that it’s dark earlier and the weather isn’t welcoming for an after-dinner stroll.  Tica and I are both very aware of the patterns of our neighborhood: what kind of cars people drive, when folks are home, new neighbors… and of course, who has dogs and what time they’re out.  We know most of the regulars out walking at various times. I feel like I could reliably identify someone who was out of place, and I’m confident I would notice someone suspicious loading your TV into a van.

Tica and I are a great team to enlist for help watching your house.  Your block probably has a few dogs out every night for a constitutional—do you know them?  They’re potential allies.  The missing piece is knowing how to reach you if there is a problem. Does your next door neighbor have a cell number for you while you’re on vacation?

Wishing everyone a safe, warm winter—at home or away!

Large police response on the north end of the hill

After a case of misidentification at the UW in pursuit of the suspected Parkland shooter, police have swarmed north Beacon Hill, concentrated mainly around the Jungle and Jose Rizal Bridge near Amazon. BHNW scanner logs reported a possible sighting of the shooting suspect near 21st and McClellan earlier this morning, and neighbor Quoc Tang sent a note:

When I left for work this morning, there were media vehicles, police vehicles, and an armored car with officers in camouflage uniforms hanging off the side, they were driving around the neighborhood. It also looked like they may have had 17th blocked off as well.

Best to follow BHB on Twitter for updates this morning.

10:20 Update: Lewis Kamb in the Tacoma News Tribune:

SWAT units arrived at a duplex on 17th Avenue South in the Beacon Hill neighborhood about 9 a.m., according to neighbors, and ordered a resident to come out. A neighbor saw a middle-aged woman come to the door in her pajamas. Police aren’t confirming anything, but the buzz is that she was wanted for questioning in relation to the manhunt. The house is now secured and police may have either removed the woman or taken her from the house.

10:32 Update: From Travis Mayfield on Twitter:

Police have cleared the scene here at Jose Rizal Park on Beacon Hill.

10:37 Update: A description and photo of the scene on 17th from Pete Hathaway, posted to the mailing list:

Click the image for the full-size version.

The two armored police yielded about a dozen police armed with assault weapons and a bullhorn, directing the occupants to lay down inside. They went into the house without an incident. When they left, about a dozen sheriff and other officers (detectives I would assume) pulled up in regular vehicles and spent over an hour in and around the house. Eventually one person was brought out and put into a vehicle. Several full brown paper bags were brought out and loaded into a different vehicle.

Festival Street to open this weekend

Festival Street, nearly ready to open. Photo by Jason.
Festival Street, nearly ready to open. Photo by Jason.
A reminder: Saturday, Dec. 5, at 10:00 AM, Festival Street (South Lander Street between Beacon Avenue South and 17th Avenue South, next to Beacon Hill Station) will open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Coffee, donuts, and city leaders will all be there.

This long-awaited project extends the plaza north of Beacon Hill Station, giving the community a space for festivals and events. Workers from the Seattle Department of Transportation have been onsite since October, working on this improvement to Lander Street.

Photo from SDOT.
Photo from SDOT.

See more SDOT photos of the Festival Street project on Flickr.

View Lander Festival Street in a larger map

Beacon Bits: Grocery stores, town halls, and a song

A new Grocery Outlet is coming to nearby SoDo. Photo by Jason.
A new Grocery Outlet is coming to nearby SoDo. Photo by Jason.
The Grocery Outlet just off Rainier Avenue, next to the Mount Baker train station, didn’t survive long enough to see the station open. It closed last year, its business hampered by ongoing station construction right in front of its parking lot.

Fans of Grocery Outlet shopping will soon have another nearby option, however, with a new store opening in the former state liquor store site on Fourth Avenue South in SoDo. The new site is not as convenient to pedestrians as the old one, however; the nearest Link station, instead of being right next door, is about a half-mile walk around a huge block and part of the Metro bus base.

* * *

Mayor-elect McGinn is hosting three town halls this week to hear your thoughts and ideas about the future of the city. Two of the town halls are reasonably close to us here on Beacon Hill.

These are the locations:

Northgate Community Center, 10510 5th Avenue Northeast
7:00 pm, Monday, November 30

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Avenue South
7:00 pm, Tuesday, December 1

Paul Robeson Performing Arts Center At Rainier Beach High School, 8815 Seward Park Avenue South
7:00 pm, Wednesday, December 2

* * *

Beacon Hill’s Helladope had KEXP’s song of the day last Monday with “Just So You Know.”

* * *

Did you deep-fry your Thanksgiving turkey? Still wondering what to do with all that excess cooking oil? Red Apple has joined with Standard Biodiesel to collect your used turkey fryer oil. Standard will donate money to Children’s Hospital for each gallon collected. Please contact the store before bringing in your oil; instructions are in the link above.
Thanks to the P-I’s Big Blog!

Potluck and planning on agenda for NBHC meeting 12/3

Time to warm up those Crock-Pots and start prepping something tasty for the NBHC potluck! Photo by _e.t.
Time to warm up those Crock-Pots and start prepping something tasty for the NBHC potluck! Photo by _e.t.
The next North Beacon Hill Council meeting is a special one: a year-end potluck celebration to recognize community members who have contributed to the neighborhood this year, and to plan for next year. The potluck and social will be followed by the monthly business meeting. All are welcome to attend. You are a voting member of the Council if you have attended one meeting previously.

The potluck starts at 6:30 pm (1/2 hour earlier than the usual meeting time), Thursday, December 3, in the Community Room at the Beacon Hill Library, 2821 Beacon Avenue South.

The agenda, as forwarded by Council Chair Judith Edwards:

  • 6:30 – Social time, potluck
  • 7:00 – A time to honor those who have given so much (and finish eating!)
  • 7:15 – Business meeting
    • Estela Ortega, Executive Director, El Centro de la Raza: Future plans for development of S. parcel of El Centro property (25 minutes, including Q&A)
    • 12th Ave. and Stevens St. neighbors request to become an ad-hoc committee of NBHC in order to challenge City Light’s installation of obtrusive power lines (5 minutes)
      — vote required
    • Discussion of final draft, Department of Planning and Development’s Neighborhood Plan Update (15 minutes)
      — vote required to approve/disapprove
    • Letter to Council Member Sally Clark, Chair, Planning and Land Use Committee: Action to ensure that N. Beacon Hill Development Design Guidelines are employed in future construction (10 minutes)
      — vote required
  • 8:05 – Future focus: where should we put our energy in the coming year? What are the issues the community is concerned with?
  • 8:30 – Closure

Crime notes: Safety tips, more burglaries, and doorbell-ringers

Chris Lew forwarded some helpful crime tips:

Hi Neighbors,

There is a concern amongst neighbors regarding crime in the area. In the past month, a couple houses have been broken into. We would just like to share some ideas on keeping each other safe.

Package and mail theft
It’s the holiday season and packages on your door are a target. If you can, have packages sent to your workplace. Or tell UPS and Fedex not to leave packages. You may want to consider leaving a note at your door that packages should be held and picked up at their station.

If your mail is stolen, it is a federal crime. Please report it to the post office.

Suspicious activity
There are reports of people that look out of place, looking in people’s houses or yards. A couple weeks ago some homeless people were caught breaking in around Swift Avenue. There are homeless encampments in the greenbelt areas.

Depending on the situation, suspicious activity can be reported to 911 for emergencies or 206-625-5011 for the non-emergency police line.

Door-to-door sales
There has also been an increase of solicitors. They may say they are selling newspaper subscriptions or funding neighborhood clean up efforts. Ask for ID, literature and/or a receipt. Don’t be fooled by a name. Some people use sympathetic sounding names, or names that closely resemble those of respected, well-established charities.

The best policy is to donate directly through an organization’s website. Know a charity before you give. Check them out on the BBB.

We need to show that we’re watching the neighborhood. One thing I do is to take pictures. If you see something, take a photo on your camera or phone. Do it with suspicious cars (try to include the license plate) as well as people. (In fact, I’ll try to keep my camera near the door in case the doorbell rings.) Even if it’s not museum quality, the photo could be useful, after the fact, since it will give an indication of time and location. Remember, that anything out in the public can be photographed. But you cannot shoot inside people’s homes without their permission, as they have a reasonable expectation of privacy according to law.

Please pass this info to your neighbors.

Chris provided a PDF version of these tips from BHNW as well.

Thanks, Chris!

* * *

Select items from the BHNW scanner blotter:

  • 11/19 1:45pm Vehicle break-in near 15th and Hanford
  • 11/19 9:15pm Burglary victims identified suspects near Spokane and Beacon, threats exchanged
  • 11/20 1:30pm Two men casing houses, looking in windows near 13th and Nevada
  • 11/21 12:15pm Burglary near 39th and Rose
  • 11/22 10:45am Stolen vehicle found near Beacon and Ferdinand
  • 11/22 1:15pm Burglary near Beacon and Brandon
  • 11/23 9:00pm Doorbell ringer ran when resident answered door near 15th and Massachusetts
  • 11/23 9:15pm Vehicle lost control while being pushed near 19th and Bayview

And some reports from the BAN and Beacon Hill mailing lists:

  • Vehicle break-in near 19th and College, some time between 6:30 and 10:30pm, 11/23. North Face jacket and backpack stolen.
  • Vehicle break-in near 20th and Bayview some time after 9pm, 11/23.
  • Burglary near 19th and Hill around 10am, 11/23.
  • The fellow from 9pm on 11/23 was also seen near 15th and State an hour earlier.

Thanks to the BHNW volunteers and everyone on the mailing lists!

Pets: lost, found, and in school

Sophie is still missing. From Craigslist:

500.00 reward for finding our lost cat
Sophie is a 7 year old spayed gray and white fluffy cat with greenish-yellow eyes. She was last seen around 7pm on September 25th, 2009 and was wearing a bright pink collar with silver sparkles on it and a small pink bell attached. She enjoys hiding out in garages and would likely be a little skittish unless hungry. We miss her terribly and need to have her back home with us — she’s a true member of our family. If you have any sort of information please, please contact us as soon as possible — no questions asked, we just desperately want her back home. Life just isn’t the same without our girl. (206) 723-1608. Thank you so much.

* * *

Contact Ely if you know where this dog belongs.
Contact Ely if you know where this dog belongs.

This red-coated dog was found around 7:30pm Tuesday evening running around the intersection near the fire station at Beacon and Spokane. Please call Ely at 206-478-8930 if you can help find his owner.

* * *

First graders at Beacon Hill Elementary got a visit from some adorable pit bulls.

El Centro also seeks the community’s development input

Photo by Wendi
Photo by Wendi

Update: The survey form has been updated. See below for the links to the new questionnaire. They need responses by noon on Sunday, November 29th. Thanks for sending along the new form and revised due date, Chris!

Elliott Jones, Development Assistant with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps at El Centro de la Raza sent this to the mailing list today:

If you’re involved with El Centro de la Raza at all, you know that we’ve been working for a few years on finalizing plans to develop the South end of our property (directly across from the Light Rail Station along Lander St.). We are extremely excited because now that the Light Rail is up and running, it won’t be too long before we get to develop the property and make our beloved Beacon Hill even better!

Our vision for the space includes a large multi-purpose/event building, underground parking, low-income housing, an open space/plaza, as well as retail/office/business space. We are currently working with the Business and Economic Development Center (BEDC) at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business to assess what kind of retail/office/business space will be best for the Beacon Hill community. And of course, in order to figure that out we need your input!

Students from the BEDC will be at Red Apple this weekend with a questionnaire they developed regarding what kind of development you, as Beacon Hill residents, would like to see on that piece of property, so valuable now that the Light Rail has moved in – small, independent stores? Chain restaurants? More grocery options? Better parking?

If you’d like to fill out the survey without taking a trip to Red Apple, you can download the survey in Microsoft Word format from El Centro download the revised survey in Microsoft Word format here.

Because not everyone has the capability of running Microsoft Word, we have made an HTML version and Google Docs version available if you find working with those formats in your web browser easier. (I hope this does not cause a hardship for the survey talliers.) These links have been updated to reflect the new survey above. — Ed.

Please email your completed surveys to Ming Huang, President of the Asian Business Student Association, at huangmingf@yahoo.com.

Ms. Huang and her colleagues will compile them and send the results to El Centro anonymously. Mr. Jones emphasized that they are committed to developing the El Centro property in the community’s best interest.

If you have any questions, you can contact Elliott Jones at (206) 957-4652.

Crime notes: Civic stolen, scanner catch-up

Dan Dean writes:

Just wanted to let you know that our car was stolen last night from 14th Ave and South Hinds Street, and was hoping you could post it to the blog!

This is on the heels of a roof rack stolen off of our car last week. I don’t know what’s going on in our neighborhood, but it’s incredibly frustrating.

Please keep an eye out for a white 1998 Honda Civic 4-door with Washington plate 299 VCV.

* * *

Chris and Amie wrote to the mailing list about a car prowl that occurred on Sunday:

Last night, someone smashed our front passenger window of our newer model car with our empty garbage can, parked on the parking pad at 19th & McClellan, an open, well lit spot. They rifled through the contents of the car, and stole my jacket in the front seat. We figured they just leaned in to look for stuff, as the alarm would have gone off if they opened a door. I would imagine it took them several tries to break a car window with an empty 24-gallon plastic garbage can. Sadly, we heard nothing. This was reported to the police.

* * *

And catching up on recent activity logged at BHNW’s Scanner Blotter:

  • Robbery reported at 17th and Shelton, 8:55pm yesterday
  • Suspicious group of 5-7 men chased from back yard near 37th and Rose, 6:55pm yesterday
  • Report of several shots fired near 14th and Oregon, 2:45pm yesterday
  • Three men door-knocking and looking in windows ran off when they saw someone at home near 32nd and Juneau, 2pm yesterday
  • Burglary reported near Morgan and Beacon, 1pm yesterday
  • Forced entry burglary reported near 13th and Austin, 3pm Saturday
  • Burglary reported near 14th and Hinds, 6:45pm last Thursday (very near where Dan’s car was stolen from!)

* * *

Theresa described some suspicious activity on the mailing list last Friday:

My husband confronted two men who were scoping out houses on our block, the 2700 block of 13th Ave S, around noon today. The first man was about 6′-3″, white, blond hair, glasses, about 25-30 years old, wearing black hoodie and jeans. The second man was about 5′-6″ black, 30-35 years old, black coat, blue jeans, white shoes, carrying a duffle bag.

They walked down the street with a piece of paper in hand, stopping on the sidewalk in front of each house, sometimes going back to houses they had already looked at. They went up to some houses and looked in the front windows. My husband saw the tall man go up to one neighbor’s house look in the front window, then knock on the door, looking over his shoulder repeatedly while the other guy stayed out on the sidewalk looking up and down the street.

My husband went across the street to confront them, and the guy at the door immediately turned away from the house, mid-knock. The guys just looked at each other when he asked what they were doing, paused, then said they were “collecting information”. They departed on foot, heading north on 13th Ave S.

SDOT improvements coming to Columbian Way

From the SDOT blog:

A new paving project is planned for South Columbian Way between Beacon Ave S and 15th Ave S in 2010. The project will benefit the multiple users of the street by:

  • Repaving the street
  • Installing new curbs
  • Improving drainage
  • Constructing new curb ramps at intersections to improve pedestrian access

In addition to the above, this portion of Columbian Way S will be restriped as part of this project. Restriping would help improve motor vehicle safety and access, pedestrian access, and bicycle usage. Proposed changes include:

  • one lane of motor vehicle traffic in each direction
  • a new two-way center turn lane
  • new bike lanes
  • a new dedicated right-turn lane at VA Hospital Drive to improve access to the medical center

This project is a part of the voter approved “Bridging the Gap” transportation levy. Click here for more information on the project.

These improvements will tie in with improvements slated for 15th Ave S.