Category Archives: Crime/Emergency

Package Theft Season is Upon Us

Package left by USPS carrier on top of mailboxes
Package left by USPS carrier on top of mailboxes

Package theft season is in high gear. What if I told you, “Hey, you’re responsible for making package theft a problem.” – Yeah, you wouldn’t believe me. But you (and that includes me) are contributing. Packages are stolen because they are left in the open on porches by package delivery companies or the packages are left on top of mailboxes.  Yes, I am aware it’s against the law to steal. If you don’t want something stolen, don’t leave it unlocked in the open. Blaming the victim isn’t a popular stance to take, but I can take the heat.

Package in plain view on porch
Package left unsecured on front porch by UPS

What is the risk of a package thief getting caught? In North Seattle, it’s pretty damn near zero. We beef and moan indignantly on about the neighborhood going to hell, and this package and that package getting stolen. The overwhelming majority of those reports don’t get made to the police or the post office. Then there is the problem of the Seattle Police Department often won’t dispatch, giving a reason of “no officer available.” Add to that the SPD officer has to witness the package being removed from the porch, and you’re pretty much out of luck reporting the suspicious lady walking down the street weaving from house to house with shopping bags full of Amazon Prime festooned boxes. Even when a nearby jurisdiction North of here is busting druggies with rooms full of new stuff to fence, not a single person complaining about packages stolen from their porches will heed the call on to come forward and work with the police to ID their stuff. Dang! I guess we really are enabling this behavior on the part of the criminals.

Here’s a radical idea: STOP getting stuff shipped to your home. That’s right, I said STOP. Hey it’s not that tough. Here are some ideas for doing just that:

  • Shop Local – those neighborhood businesses that invest in our community, hire our kids and us, are aching for our business. Jeff Bezos’ business will survive, but the local shop may not unless we support them with our dollars.
  • UPS, FedEx and others have the ability to hold packages for pickup. Sometimes there is a charge, sometimes you have to create an account.
  • Ship the packages to a local shipping business like Sip and Ship or The Mailbox Ballard, or ….  Again these guys are local businesses investing in our neighborhood ….
  • Have packages shipped to your work instead of your home if that is allowed.
  • Have packages shipped to a neighbor who is home.
  • If you must patronize Jeff Bezos’ business, make use of the package lockers they provide for FREE.
  • Alert your neighbors if you have not heeded any of the earlier suggestions and you must be away from home. Make sure to reward them handsomely with drinks and goodies for their efforts on your behalf.

These ideas don’t help with the priceless family heirloom that gets sent unexpectedly from Great Aunt Mergatroid in Beulah ND, but will go a long ways. If there is less valuable stuff unsecured on front porches, the thieves won’t be able to sustain their habits and they’ll go elsewhere.

Does it do any good to call the police? You get the most likelihood of a dispatched officer for a crime in progress reported to 911. The dispatcher will decide whether to send an officer or not. Property crimes aren’t that high on the list, so they will not get much attention. Calling 911 is the sure-fire way to get the crime entered into the SPD’s computers. Seeing suspicious activity and calling the non-emergency line has an extremely low likelihood of a response. Posting on is great, but ONLY after you have made the call to the police – that lets us all know to be observant. If you get the text your package was delivered, and it’s gone by the time you’re home, then file an online police report of the theft. If you have keen observations about the patterns of thefts, maybe call the precinct, and see if you can speak to your community police team officer or a detective.

Does it do any good to install a surveillance camera? It might help the police to identify a previously known person. It might help neighbors be on the lookout for an easily identifiable person. I qualified that with “might” because most of the thieves are onto the cameras and are hiding their faces as they approach porches.

Finally, a bit of perspective, almost all cyber vendors factor in porch pilferage into the cost of doing business, and happily replace pilfered items. It’s just stuff and in the bigger scale of things, not all that important.

Emergency Preparedness Class

What:  SNAP Course
When: Monday, Nov 17th, 7 PM
Where: Crown Hill Center, 9250 14th Ave NW, Room 4

SNAP (Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare) is a program designed to help Seattle residents prepare for disasters. We are all pretty familiar with earthquakes, at least those of us who were around in 2001 for the Nisqually Earthquake. But we’re not all that prepared for a big earthquake like the 1700 Cascadia quake which is thought to be the largest earthquake in historical times in North America and one of those quakes is due to occur every 300 to 500 years or so. Emergency preparedness extends to other situations as well from the very small scale to the very large scale. Imagine a very large windstorm, or a freak snowstorm and power outage (like the one in 2006 that left much of Northern Seattle without power and passable roads for three to ten days), or a landslide or a massive eruption of Mt. Rainier or…. As recent disasters in other countries have shown, emergency preparedness can mean the difference between life and death.

We are truly lucky to live in a city with such a massive infrastructure of emergency responders, and facilities. However, in a large scale emergency, our response systems will be completely overwhelmed and we will be largely on our own for a few days to a week or more before the response can be effectively mobilized with help from the feds, the state, the military and surrounding areas.

You don’t need to acquire a massive diesel generator or amass a 1 year supply of emergency rations in your basement. Small, easily accomplished, simple steps can make the difference. The problem is we all put off doing the easy stuff (or even finding out what stuff is easy and effective) until another day.

We’re partnering with the Seattle Office of Emergency Management to offer a course in preparedness for everyone. This course has been honed over the years to include what makes sense in Seattle. This course is focused on what you can do in your home, and with your immediate neighbors to be actively prepared. There is an active community of volunteers who teach the course, and we have arranged for Cheryl Dyer from Loyal Heights to teach us. Cheryl has been active in emergency preparedness for several years, most recently spearheading a grant to create six emergency communication hubs in Ballard and Crown Hill.

This class will immediately follow our monthly Crown Hill Neighborhood Assn Board Meeting. The board meeting will be abbreviated to accommodate the class. You are welcome to come to the board meeting as well, and that begins at 6:30.

Personal Safety Warning from Seattle Police Department

Received today from Terrie Johnston at Seattle Police Dept:

Dear Block Captains/Contacts:

We wanted to notify you that there have been three separate sexually-motivated attacks on women across the North Precinct. The descriptions of the suspect vary, as does neighborhood, time of day and day of the week. The common threads have been that the women were either walking or running by themselves, and were approached by an unknown male. Two of the incidents occurred next to wooded areas. SPD Patrol officers and Detectives are doing all they can to identify and apprehend the suspect(s). I will keep you informed of our progress. In the meantime, please review these personal safety tips:

  • Awareness and avoidance: Keep alert and tuned in to your surroundings.
  • Do you know your location? Do you know the street names, hundred block? East, South, West, North? Could you tell the 9-1-1 call taker to where they need to dispatch responders?
  • Trust your instincts! If you have an uncomfortable feeling-honor it! Leave, cross the street, double-back. Forget “being nice”. If you feel uncomfortable, move! Don’t hesitate to make a scene or scream if necessary.
  • Try to get good descriptions of anyone acting suspiciously or threatening. Start from the head and work down. Most likely you know your height, so use this to gauge theirs.
  • Try and stay on streets where you can be easily seen by others. Well-lighted streets are best.
  • If traveling alone, take a charged up cell phone with you if possible. Know what is available to you along your route. What time does that store open or close? Does that apt.bldg. have a security guard? Is there a payphone?
  • Ipod earphones, etc. may prevent you from hearing someone approaching. As does texting while you are walking, waiting for the bus, etc. You need to be aware when out if public spaces.
  • Traveling with another person, is tried and true in reducing street crime. Going with two others reduces the risk even more.
  • Carrying a minimum amount of possessions is advised when out and about. It isn’t necessary to carry all your credit cards, check book, cash, and so on, every time you go out. Take what you need for this trip. Keep valuables close to the body, in inside pockets. This frees up your hands and does not invite pickpocketing.
  • Body Language: Stand tall, walk confidently with your head up, eyes open and constantly scanning the surroundings.
  • Try not to show fear. Keep a neutral face that shows you are “in charge”.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the street. Shoes that are comfortable and allow you to run if necessary. Choose clothing that allows you to move, and does not block your vision.

And as always, please call 9-1-1 for anything suspicious or to report a crime in progress.

Do not hesitate to call me at the North Precinct if you need more. Also, please check our website for more info.
Thanks for sharing this information with others on your distribution list.

Terrie Johnston
Seattle Police Crime Prevention

Free First Aid training for Ballard and Crown Hill Residents

The Ballard Prepares team, with funding from a Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple grant, is offering free emergency first aid training to the first 90 people in the Ballard area (this includes Crown Hill) to apply. The Ballard Prepares team advises that “the objective is to have 90 additional people who live or work in our community trained to be able to respond in an emergency.”

The course requires two online components to be completed before the one time, in-person training at the Crown Hill Center on January 26th from 9am-2pm.

The online components include blood-borne pathogens, and first aid. The in-class component will include CPR and the use of AEDs.

If you’re interested, please complete this form and email to The first 90 people will receive directions to log into the online training course.

In exchange for this opportunity, Ballard Prepares asks that you make a commitment of being available to respond in your community to emergencies.

Application:  BallardPreparesEnrollmentForm.docx


Crown Hill Burglary Suspect Featured on Washington’s Most Wanted

mccaslinOn Saturday May 14th, Wallyhood reported on a burglary by the same suspect wanted for the April 18th attempted burglary and assault occurring in the 9700 block of 12th Ave NW. The suspect is Jeffrey McCaslin, who is also wanted for failing to appear for a court date for an earlier burglary in Wallingford.  McCaslin is prominently featured in the May 6th edition of Washington’s Most Wanted from Q13 FOX. The Washington’s Most Wanted report lists the following vitals:

  • Name: Jeffrey McCaslin
  • Age: 33
  • Height:  6’0″
  • Weight: 205 lbs
  • Long Hair
  • Nose: Bends to left
  • Tattoos: Peace signs on both forearms

Read the report at Q13 Fox, and if you see this individual, or know of information that will lead to his apprehension, please contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or 911.

For details on the April 18th burglary, see the Ballard News Tribune article. The police report for that incident is available here (registration required).