Hollywood Hill Association


King County Sherrif's Department

Burglary Meeting Summary (2/22/2010)


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The Greater Hollywood Hill Area is currently suffering from a burglary crime wave. The Hollywood Hill Association sponsored, and the Farm neighborhood hosted, a community meeting to discuss the problem, and explore ways to prevent further burglaries.

Thanks to all who attended. We had standing room only, well over 100 people! Detective Stephen Soule of the King County Sheriff's Department gave us a history of the local wave of burglaries and we had a good discussion of burglary prevention suggestions. A summary of the important points follows.

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What is going on?

  • Since August of 2009, approximately three dozen homes have been burgled in the greater Hollywood Hill Area.
  • The burglars are from disparate areas, but mostly from Snohomish County.
  • More than 100 individuals are involved in the burglaries.
  • The biggest reason for burglaries is money for drugs. Oxycontin is the most popular right now, although some are switching to heroin because it is more cost-effective.

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Who are the burglars?

  • A few professionals who are well-equipped with tools and knowledge. They will often take their time, investigate opportunities, search more, and steal more large items.
  • A lot of less-experienced burglars, mostly drug addicts, who enter an area, look for empty houses by various means, then quickly run through the house stealing easily-fenced items: jewelry, cash, laptop computers.
  • Locals, basically our children and their friends, who often go through a house and steal not only items to sell, but also items for personal use: electronics, booze, etc. One clue to the existence of these types of burglaries is clusters of burglaries in a neighborhood.

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How do the burglars operate?

  • They almost always invade empty houses.
  • Sometimes they go after houses for sale, cutting the lockboxes from the front doors.
  • They will go door-to-door, posing as sales- or service-people, and if no-one answers the door, will go to the back and enter.
  • They will enter through unlocked or easily-jimmied doors or windows, sometimes breaking a window to enter, or can gain access through a dog door.
  • Sometimes they gain access through open garages.
  • Unlocked cars are also a source of booty, cash, cameras, cell phones, etc.
  • Most of the burglars cruise the dens, offices, and master bedrooms, stealing cash, jewelry, and laptop computers. Other items have been stolen, but not as often.
  • The peak period of activity is Wednesday through Friday, daylight to dusk. This is when residents are most likely to be out. Sometimes "locals" will strike at night.

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How can we help prevent the burglaries?

  • If you interrupt a burglary in progress, CALL 911!
  • The best way of prevention is communication with your neighbors, and to call the King County Sheriffs Department (KCSD) if you see something strange. Call 911 or (206) 296-3311, which is the King County Sheriff's Department non-emergency number. If you do call 911, the operator will switch you to the non-emergency number. They will check out your information, and if warranted, will send police as soon as possible.
  • Look for strange vehicles in your neighborhood. Ask the drivers, if present, why they are there, and if you don't get a good answer, call the license plate and auto identification in to the KCSD. Do not, however, touch or threaten them physically. While generally unarmed, you do not want to escalate a potentially bad situtation.
  • If necessary, take pictures of the strangers. This will usually make them leave. Clearly-marked automated camera surveillance systems can be effective deterrents, also.
  • Audible alarm systems, clearly indicated with signs and a control panel highly-visible from the front door can dissuade some burglars.
  • Let your neighbors know if you will be having family, friends, or service people at your house so that they will know that strange cars and unfamiliar people belong there.
  • Noisy, larger dogs can sometimes dissuade burglars, but they are no guarantee.
  • Although most of the burglars come from out of the area and at random times, varying your schedule can help thwart any locals who might be keeping an eye out for your regular comings and goings.
  • If you have children alone at home and someone comes to the door, have them yell out a window telling the stranger that a) a parent is home and will be present in a minute, and b) that the person should leave, because there is no soliciting allowed, and that the police will be called if they don't leave.
  • Gated streets are more and less successful at deterring burglars, depending on factors such as your proximity to the gate, but are certainly no guarantee of safety.

Call 911 - or - (206) 296-3311

What are some other ways we can help prevent burglaries?

  • If you interrupt a burglary in progress, CALL 911!
  • Consult the King County Sheriff's Department website for tips on burglary prevention: Protect your home from burglary.
  • A "Block Watch" program can be set up for your street. The manual is located on the KCSD website here: Block Watch Manual
  • It has been suggested that posting your plans on social networking websites (for example, Facebook) opens your plans up to all kinds of strangers. Remember, it's a good idea to let your neighbors know when you will be out and anyone who might be visiting your house while you are away (e.g., pet-sitters).

Call 911 - or - (206) 296-3311

For the future

Since the best way we can help prevent crime in our community is communication, we will be exploring ways to further communication and community. Some tools we will be exploring include improved email communication and possibly a "wiki"-style information source to aid in aggregating and disseminating information and suggestions. Watch this space for further developments.