Thieves robbed the beloved Italian restaurant Serafina in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood. It’s the restaurant’s 18th break-in since the pandemic’s start and the introduction of light-on-crime laws and policies.
The pair broke into the restaurant and ransacked its wine locker Dec. 1. According to video surveillance exclusively shared with the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, the thieves surveyed the wine locker for the best bottles to steal. They know they don’t have to rush because police are not adequately staffed to respond to non-violent break-in calls on most shifts.
When it’s easy to get away with crimes, criminals do what they do best: break the law. It’s largely to blame for King County retail theft surging 100% over last year’s already-high numbers.
The owner, Christian Chandler, shared the bad news on the restaurant’s Instagram account.
“Sadly, not a warm, comforting food post today. We were broken into … again,” he wrote.
Chandler tells the Jason Rantz Show that the thieves used a crowbar to get passed the locked doors and then stole between 30 and 40 bottles of wine.
“They knew what they were doing. They knew what to look for and they grabbed the good stuff,” Chandler explained.
The losses were costly: $5,000. He’s had so many break-ins that he says he has a glass replacement company on speed dial. And since the break-ins are so frequent, he fears his insurance company may drop his burglary clause.
“Serafina has been around since ’91. In the first 29 years of us doing business here on Eastlake, I think we’ve recorded maybe five break-in attempts. And since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been hit 18 times. So it’s crazy, you know, something needs to be done,” he explained.
Chandler says he and other business owners in the neighborhood are frustrated. They feel like the city is letting them down and are not being supported.
“I mean, 18 times in two and a half years is ridiculous. And, you know, the fact that I’m even reaching out to these council members and the mayor’s office, requesting all this help … just do something for us. You know, small businesses are the backbone of the city of Seattle. I see restaurants closing weekly. And there’s more that the city could be doing to help us out.”
One thing he’d like to see? More police officers. But the Seattle City Council just voted to permanently defund 80 open positions, shrinking an already understaffed department.
The crime isn’t new for Eastlake.
Armistice Coffee, which is across the street from Serafina, has been hit so often that it stopped accepting and carrying cash. Not only did the owner have to replace broken windows, but she had to purchase new cash tills that were stolen.
“We were getting broken into every two weeks,” owner Rebecca Smith told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “And realistically, we still are, but the problem we face is that they smashed our window, which is a minimum of $1,000 to fix.”
Ironically, the policy to go cashless upset some progressive activists who criticized Smith for making it harder for the homeless to shop at her coffee shops. The homeless, however, don’t shop at her stores; they steal.
Seattle city councilmember Sara Nelson is a small business owner. She understands the difficulty of doing business in a city plagued by crime. She was shocked when the city council passed a budget that permanently defunded 80 police officer positions, arguing it sent the wrong message to both the police and the community.
“I can’t look small business owners in the face and say that we’re trying our absolute hardest,” council member Nelson told the Jason Rantz Show. “Because I’m chair of economic development, I’m often called to comment on a recent story about a small business owner who’s suffered the fifth break-in. Or they’re about to close because their employees don’t feel safe.
“And I’m always asked, ‘What do you have to say to that small business owner?’ And what I usually say is, ‘I share your frustration that the city is not doing more to help, please don’t lose hope.’ And that rings hollow if we’re not taking steps to do something different and more robust on public safety.”
Seattle has seen a surge of violent and non-violent crime after the council defunded and demonized police and the Democrat-dominated legislature passed criminal justice reforms.
Democrats banned all vehicular pursuits, a policy that the Seattle Police Department previously adopted. It telegraphed to would-be criminals that, so long as their crime is quick, if they’re able to drive off in a vehicle before police can make an arrest, they won’t be pursued. They’re usually driving stolen cars, making investigations by a depleted police department even more difficult.
If the criminals are caught, they know they usually don’t have to worry. Thanks to activism by the activist King County Department of Public Defense and the like-minded King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, the criminal is unlikely to see jail time. They might not even see a judge.
Satterberg, and the newly-elected Leesa Manion, favor restorative justice programs over jail. Even though the programs don’t see much success, constantly giving passes to criminals to re-offend, Satterberg and Manion believe the criminal justice system (from the police to the courts) is institutionally racist.
Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.