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Ballard man chases and takes down thief after dad’s ashes stolen

A Ballard man says people from a nearby homeless encampment and RVs at 8th Avenue Northwest and Leary Ave Northwest in Ballard are repeatedly stealing his property.

The man said thieves even stole his father’s ashes and his frustration led to a face-to-face showdown.

He and others in the area said the neighborhood has been plagued with problems like needles, human feces on business property, and property theft. Staff at Sutter Home and Hearth, Fremont Brewing, and other residents in the area have all raised concerns.

On Tuesday, the City of Seattle’s navigation team cleared out the homeless encampment, but people in the area are worried the people – and the problems – will come back.

They say they’ve already felt the need to try and stop the crimes themselves.

Last Thursday, someone broke into Shawn Telford’s camper, parked in the backyard of his Ballard home.

“They broke the lock on the passenger door and busted the door on the driver’s side,” said Telford. “And they left the screwdriver up in the lock mechanism,” he said, showing KIRO 7 photos of the damage.

The people who broke into the camper stole a few things like clothing and one of his son’s toys.

So that night, with the camper open and vulnerable, Telford decided to sleep in the camper.

“I slept here fully dressed and had a big Maglite,” he said, holding a flashlight.

He said around 6 a.m., the car prowler came back.

Telford said while he was laying down, the front door of the van opened.

“And the perp or the junkie reached in and the first thing he grabbed was my dad’s ashes,” Telford said.

“I shine my light on his face and he took off running. And I went out the side door and chased him,” he said.

Telford said he keeps his dad’s ashes right on the dashboard, because his dad left the camper to him. And now he uses the camper to show his 5-year-old son nature in the Pacific Northwest.

“He’d be really happy we have had this to go out and do those things. So I take him with me,” Telford said, his voice breaking.

During the chase, he said the suspect dropped the ashes, so he was able to get them back. He said the suspect also dropped a weapon – a telescoping metal baton.

He said the suspect ran towards a line of RVs and hopped on a bike.

“I continue to pursue him, I grabbed him by his back and jerked him off the bike down to the ground. And that’s when his buddy with the prybar came at me and chased me away. I saw when he got up, he’s going like this, trying to find something,” Telford said, patting the pockets of his jeans. “Then he pulls out a knife,” he said.

The suspect got away. Shawn ended up with only minor scrapes.

Seattle police say they don’t recommend going after suspects because you could get seriously hurt. But for Telford, he said there was no other option.

“I’m defending my property, I’m defending my home, my family, my neighborhood, my community. We’ve got a blight of drugs and addiction that is descending upon us, and no one can do anything about it? That is unacceptable. I don’t accept that answer,” he said.

Telford said he’s sharing what happened to keep up awareness about how homelessness is impacting others in the community.

“I know those people are hurting. But that doesn’t mean they need to come here and make us hurt,” Telford said.

Seattle said its navigation team that cleared out residents of the encampment at 8th and Leary offered everyone who lived there services, but all declined the offer.

By Deedee Sun, KIRO 7

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