Magnolia business frustrated by police’s late response to burglarized Shell station

Oct 4, 2018, 7:00 PM
seattle police...
(KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

The owner of a Magnolia Shell station watched the live footage, horrified, as his business was burglarized just after 3 a.m. Friday.

Because Sam* was away in Nevada, he had to helplessly watch the video from his hotel room, thanks to a call from his alarm company. However, since his alarm company had notified him as soon as the burglars broke in, he was able to call the Seattle Police Department straight away.

But as the minutes ticked by and the burglars helped themselves to $15,000 worth of merchandise, Sam did not see police officers show up to the scene.

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“He had to watch this play out from thousands of miles away as they’re looting the store and stealing things, and there’s no police present,” Brian Burns, Sam’s business partner, said to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

Burns and an employee showed up to the scene at about 3:30 a.m. to find the window broken and the Shell station store full of smoke.

“They had brought a smoke bomb in with them — their idea was, that would cover up the video cameras,” Burns said. “They thought this one out.”

Police did not show up until 4:23 a.m., Burns said.

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He was surprised to see three officers show up — as a Magnolia resident, he said that he knows there is normally only one Magnolia officer on duty at night.

“I think that they didn’t come out until they knew that they had backup, and that’s the part that really upsets me,” he said. “I didn’t have backup.”

Burns knew that if Sam had been at his home in Magnolia, he would have been at the Shell station immediately — and he would have been armed.

“Sam’s got a concealed weapons permit … and Sam would’ve been there within five minutes,” Burns said. “And without any kind of police presence, two things could have happened; either he would have shot somebody, or he could have gotten shot.”

Burns observed that there were not just the two burglars at the crime scene — there had been a ‘getaway driver’ waiting for the burglars around the corner. He is terrified to think of what could have happened if Sam — because of the slow police response — had tried to stop the burglary himself, and found himself outnumbered.

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Among the stolen items was a whole host of lottery tickets. Through his own sleuthing, Sam discovered that one of the lottery tickets had been cashed just two hours after the burglary at a 76 Station in Kent. Knowing that there would be surveillance video of the suspect, Burns called police and asked if they could go to the 76 Station and look at the footage. He was told the case would have to be assigned to a detective.

It wasn’t until television stations like KIRO 7 picked up the story this week that Burns said the police response suddenly changed.

“Once that got involved, things started to happen,” Burns said. “When the police department found out that TV had heard about it … they finally assigned a detective to the case.”

KIRO 7 reporters spoke with the Seattle Police Department and were told that, for an unknown reason, the case had been incorrectly classified and not marked as an emergency.

As frustrating as the experience has been, Burns does not for a moment blame the individual officers on duty.

“The officers on duty really have their hands tied,” Burns said. “It’s like a dog that has no teeth — it’s not much of a watchdog.”

What Burns wants to see is a change in the city policies that have forced the Seattle Police Department into this situation.

“The city is broken,” Burns said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

*Last name left out at personal request. 

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

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Magnolia business frustrated by police’s late response to burglarized Shell station