Watch those iPhones: street robberies increase in SE Seattle

Be aware of your surroundings while listening to music or talking on the phone. Photo by Ed Yourdon via Creative Commons/Flickr.
Street robberies have been on the increase in Southeast Seattle lately, according to a Seattle Police community alert issued yesterday. The robberies often involve 2-3 suspects who demand phones, iPods, wallets, or jewelry from individual victims. In some cases, weapons were displayed, while in others, “body force” or the threat of it was used.

Victims typically were distracted by using their phones or listening to iPods. Many of the robberies clustered around transit stops and stations, particularly Mount Baker Station, Columbia City Station, and the areas around Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. and S Othello Street, and Rainier Ave. S. and S. Henderson Street.

These “hot spots” are in Rainier Valley, not on Beacon Hill, but there have been a few incidents on the Hill in the last month as well.

On December 2 at about 4:30 p.m., a man got off the bus at Beacon Avenue South and South Columbian Way, and was then accosted at Beacon and South Ferdinand Street by two suspects, one of whom held a gun to the victim’s stomach. They demanded his cell phone and the cash from his wallet. One of the the two then pepper-sprayed the victim, then they ran east on South Ferdinand. The suspects aren’t described in the police report.

A few days earlier, in the afternoon on November 28, another man got off the bus at Beacon and South Orcas, and was confronted by two men in the area of 22nd Avenue South and Orcas. One man pointed a silver handgun at the victim and said “give me everything you got.” The victim gave him a wallet, an iPod, and a backpack. The suspects were described as “an Asian male wearing a black BB hat, a black hoodie with the hood up, and black pants,” and “an unknown race male wearing a black and red jacket.”

The next day, in nearly the same location at about 6:45 p.m., another victim walking home from the bus had a run in with two men, one of whom pointed a “small dark semi-auto handgun” at him. They took the victim’s wallet and jacket. The suspects were both described as Asian males, about 5’8″. One was “possibly Vietnamese or Korean… thin build, shaved almost bald head, and wearing dark clothing including a hooded sweatshirt with a light colored design on the front.” The other was “possibly Filipino, chubby build, bigger lips, wearing all dark clothing including a hooded sweatshirt.” The latter was driving a white Honda Prelude before the two pulled over and confronted the victim.

On November 15, two teenagers were waiting at a bus stop in the 7100 block of Beacon Avenue South when a man displayed a handgun and demanded their iPhone 4 and blue iPod Nano, saying “I need your phone, give me it, this is my shit.” The suspect was described as a black male, 5’6″-5’9″, possibly 16-19 years of age, weighing 175 pounds, with a short black afro, and wearing a blue jacket with a royal blue hood and collar and blue baggy jeans.

To keep yourself as safe as possible from this type of crime, the Police suggest a few basic principles, including:

  • Carry minimal items.
  • Don’t bring your entire handbag or wallet with you unless you need to.
  • Plan your route and pay close attention to your surroundings.
  • Avoid listening to music through earphones when out on the street.
  • Don’t use or flash valuables like laptops, iPods, iPads or iPhones on the bus or train.
  • If someone demands your property and displays or implies in any way that they have a weapon, don’t resist.

More safety advice can be found in the December 6 South Precinct Community Alert/Newsletter.

2 thoughts on “Watch those iPhones: street robberies increase in SE Seattle”

  1. This goes beyond south Seattle. I know people who’ve had their iPhones stolen right out of their hands on Capitol HIll and in the U District in the past couple months.

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