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Seattle police bust downtown thieves with Tide Pods, booze

Tide Pods are among a list of items targeted by a “prolific group” of Seattle thieves. The racket took at least $111,000 of property out of downtown stores.

RELATED: Crime returns to Seattle’s infamous 9.5 blocks

Seattle police arrested four men for possession and trafficking of stolen property following a two-month undercover operation to take down their organization. According to Seattle police:

For two months, undercover officers followed the men to darkened alleyways, restaurant booths and alcoves around downtown, where they exchanged small amounts of cash for valuable stolen goods.

Police say that the “prolific group” targeted low-level drug users near Third Avenue and Pike Street. The men provided the drug-users a list of items to steal from downtown stores. The lists included exact size and colors of clothing, and other product specifications. They paid for the stolen items at a fraction of the value.

Undercover officers posed as thieves employed by the four men. Police served search warrants March 1 to homes in Burien, Federal Way, and Renton. The investigation also led to a storage unit in Des Moines.

Tide Pods, perfume, and booze

Investigators believe that the men were shipping the stolen property out of the United States where it would be sold.

Police found $70,000 worth of evidence at the Federal Way trailer. That includes $50,000 in cash.

In Federal Way, police found:

  • Tide Pods
  • $17,000 worth of liquor
  • 75 boxes of perfume worth $6,000
  • Purses, wallets, jackets, jeans, sunglasses, and other apparel

Police also found $10,000 in stolen property at the storage unit in Des Moines.

Notorious stab alley

The area of Third Avenue and Pike Street — where the four men carried out their operation — is notorious for Seattle crime and drug use. Workers in the area colloquially call it “stab alley.”

RELATED: Why do downtown workers call this stretch stab alley?

Seattle police call it 9.5 blocks. They swept the area on April 23, 2015 with mass arrests, primarily taking in drug dealers. Cops arrested 95 people that day. The downtown landscape was also modified. Wide sidewalks were narrowed to discourage loitering. Newspaper boxes were removed to take away surfaces for drug deals. And bus stops were moved.

The strategy seemed to work for a while. There was a 45 percent drop in narcotics-related calls (220 in 2014 to 112 in 2015). Calls about suspicious circumstances dropped from 414 to 293. And robberies decreased from 91 to 59.

But by July 2017, Seattle police were back in the area with another sweep — 42 people were arrested. An ounce of heroin, a half ounce of meth, and $10,000 were seized.

The recent operation that led to the March 1 arrests is the latest effort by Seattle police to address property crime in the downtown core.



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