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One-day Seattle tourists: The city is too risky to visit after theft

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
LISTEN: Couple's vacation ruined by downtown car prowler

UPDATE: Philip and Katie later tracked down the suspected thief of Philip’s backpack on the street, and were able to recover the backpack and Philip’s laptop. The Seattle Police Department apprehended the suspect, and the case is currently sitting at the prosecutor’s desk. Dori Monson understands that SPD can not respond to all property crime calls, but hopes that city leaders will step up and take back city streets from criminals.

For 23-year-old Philip and his 20-year-old girlfriend, Katie, a vacation to the Pacific Northwest represented a nature enthusiast’s dream.

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The Michigan residents flew into Portland, OR, and planned to visit the Olympic, North Cascades, Mount Rainier, and Mount Hood national parks. They planned a one-day stop in Seattle.

During their time in Seattle Monday, Philip and Katie told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that they drove downtown to check out popular tourist sights like Pike Place Market and the waterfront.

For one hour, Philip and Katie parked their rental car on the street at Western Avenue and Union Street while they toured the market. The couple thought nothing of it — after all, it was the middle of the day, the streets were full of tourists and workers on their lunch breaks, and the parking spot was within a stone’s throw of high-end spots such as the Four Seasons Hotel, Benaroya Hall, and the Seattle Art Museum.

“We thought if there was one place that we didn’t have to worry about, it would be right there,” Philip said. “It turns out we were wrong.”

When they returned to the rental car, they found the windows were broken and all of their bags missing.

“We came back and our window was smashed — both of our backpacks were gone that had clothing and my laptop and other personal items,” Philip said. “So it was not how we wanted our short visit to Seattle to go.”

Seattle tourists vs theft vs police

Philip said that he and Katie went from shock, to panic over the fact that the damaged car did not even belong to him, to frustration over the amount of money that it would cost to replace everything that had been taken. Without even a piece of clothing to their names, they had to get new clothes and necessities before they could even continue traveling and try to put the incident behind them.

“First of all, you already paid for this vacation, then you’re out another $1,000, $1,500 because your stuff is stolen,” Philip said.

Unfortunately, police were far from helpful, Philip said.

“The police said, ‘Oh yeah, this happens all the time, you should’ve locked your stuff in the trunk. We’ll call you in the next 10 hours to file a report,'” Philip recalled.

When he asked police if they could come out to the scene of the crime, Philip said SPD responded that this would take two days.

Even for a couple from Detroit, the amount of crime in Seattle was shocking. Philip said that he couldn’t believe homeless people were allowed to set up and camp on the streets.

“We’re from the Detroit area, so we understand that crime happens — but even in Detroit, you can park downtown safely,” Philip said. “Or at least, you know where the sketchy parts are.”

When Philip gets home and his friends ask how the trip to the Puget Sound was, he said that he can’t give the region a glowing review.

“There’s no way I would recommend for them to come out here,” he said. “I’m sure there are really good things about Seattle, and we’ve seen good things here — it’s just, they do not outweigh the risks of being here.”

“I don’t understand how people live in constant fear that their car might be robbed,” Philip added.

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