Rantz: Armed thieves targeting Seattle middle and high school students

Oct 22, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: 7:54 pm

Ballard High School...

Ballard High School. (MyNorthwest photo)

(MyNorthwest photo)

The Seattle crime crisis is now finding middle and high school students. A group of armed and masked thieves are targeting students after school and there aren’t enough officers to proactively police the neighborhoods. They’re committing the crimes in broad daylight.

Armed robberies are plaguing the neighborhood around Ballard High School and Whitman Middle School. Young students are having their cell phones, headphones, wallets, and other valuables stolen. Some students report being physically assaulted, according to police. It’s been happening for about six weeks, with as many as six dangerous thieves involved.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it. It’s happening in broad daylight,” a Ballard H.S. senior told KING 5, describing a recent confirmed armed robbery. “He looked down at his phone and by the time he looked up, he was surrounded by five guys, and eventually these guys told him ‘Sit on the ground.’ They made him reset his phone, tell them his password, and they took his AirPods, phones.”

Kids are being assaulted and robbed

There were two robberies and assaults on September 15. One victim’s mother told KIRO 7 TV that four males in ski masks pulled up behind her 14-year-old son and demanded his iPhone. When he didn’t comply, the mom said the suspects pushed her son to the ground and started punching him in the head. She told KIRO that the police told her thieves drove three blocks away to jump another 14-year-old boy.

One student told KOMO TV that she knows five or six people who were robbed. She said she fears going to school. Another senior student complained that “we’re getting to the point where we can’t even walk to our cars with a sense of safety.”

The most recent robbery occurred on October 19. It prompted Ballard H.S. principal Abby Hunt to write a letter to parents warning them about the incidents. She said she is “working closely with regional school leaders and the district’s Safety and Security team on best practices in keeping our campuses safe.” But there’s little she can guarantee.

Seattle Police, when staffing allows, will offer extra patrols in the impacted areas. But the department has lost over 600 officers since 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests inspired the Seattle City Council to defund police by roughly 20%. This year, the department lost 78 officers and only hired 49 recruits. Mayor Bruce Harrell has yet to fully implement his 2022 recruitment and retention plan for the department. His office has still not presented a plan to tackle the crime crisis.

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Democrat policies created this crisis

Following the nationwide trend in Democrat-run cities, the thieves appear to be teens.

In Washington state, teen criminals seldom suffer meaningful consequences. Washington Democrats passed legislation preventing officers from talking to teen suspects until they have a lawyer present, even if the suspect’s parents consent. When teens do get caught, they seldom see jail time. Instead, they’re pushed into restorative justice programs run by police and prison abolitionist groups. The county provides little oversight.

For example, it does not conduct background checks on those working with teens placed in their care. As reported by KUOW, at least three staff members who work with youth at Community Passageways, a restorative justice program favored by King County, currently have restraining orders against them for domestic violence or other violent crimes. Community Passageways does not explain what criminal convictions would stop them from employment with their failed program.

Not only do these programs not work, there’s little to no accountability by the prosecutors and judges who favor these alternatives to jails.

“To date, King County has allocated $17.5 [million] in public funds to 18 private organizations that are responsible for preventing youth gun violence and incarceration by treating juvenile offenders outside of the judicial court system,” King County Councilmember Regan Dunn wrote in a letter demanding an audit of the programs. “Alarmingly, these organizations do not track or collect metrics that would demonstrate meaningful success, such as whether the juvenile offenders complete all requirements of the rehabilitation program or not, or whether the juvenile offenders commit future criminal charges.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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