It would have been a brilliant bit of Trojan horse tactical strategy if it had been intentional. On Saturday, March 30, Seattle police located a stolen truck with a cargo trailer attached.
"(Officers) obviously checked the truck, but the actual trailer was locked and was not searched before being sent to our vehicle storage area," explains Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb.
According to Whitcomb, officers would have needed a warrant to break the lock on the trailer, so they just towed the whole thing to the SPD evidence warehouse near South Holgate in SoDo.
The trailer wasn't empty. There were two people living inside the 20-foot-by-8-foot space. They went unnoticed while the trailer was being towed away.
"You can imagine the surprise of that man and woman when they woke up and looked out of the trailer and said, 'Oh my gosh, where are we?'" says Whitcomb.
Faced with the proposition of breaking out of a secure police complex that also houses the SPD's SWAT unit and training offices, "they basically made a beeline, presumably towards a fire extinguisher, which they then discharged inside of that trailer in an effort to cover their tracks," says Whitcomb. "That did not work. And then they went out the exit door."
The man and woman made it out, leaving their mattresses, drug paraphernalia, and various stolen goods behind for police to find on Monday.
Whitcomb says the couple didn't disturb anything else. "If they wanted to, if they were malicious about it, they could have potentially tampered with up to ten cars being stored there for other felony investigations."
Rather than keep quiet, the couple told their story to a burglar in an unrelated case who tried to cut a deal with Seattle police. The suspect provided just enough information for detectives to figure out the identities of the stowaways.
"We have been able to identify the two people who were in that trailer - it's a man and a woman. We know who they are," says Whicomb. "The man is in custody on an unrelated charge."
The bottom line from Sgt. Whitcomb: "Maybe a warrant on the front end before bringing it in to evidence would have been key."