Mystery of Why Downtown Seattle Is So Popular Among Street Denizens Finally Solved

More than just tobacco.
The apparent answer: They're being kept gainfully employed by local fencing operations.

You may recall the bust a few years ago of downtown's Liberty pawn shop, whose owners enlisted a cadre of street addicts to steal items from neighboring retailers, then resold them on eBay. (Liberty was eventually leveled to make way for the Hard Rock Cafe.)

Today comes news, via Seattle 911, of a police investigation of International Cigars on Third Avenue, which authorities suspect is employing the same m.o. (minus the online auctions). Employees of the cigar shop "were soliciting homeless people and drug addicts to shoplift items from local stores," then reselling the goods in-house. Or so claimed a police informant.

And it seems the police had little trouble corroborating that claim. With one glaring exception.

Stolen Xbox games, iPods, anti-virus software, and all manner of cell phone equipment found a ready home at the cigar shop--even when identified to the proprietors as stolen--the police say they found in their undercover operation.

However, Casey McNerthney reports, "an attempt to have the informant sell a copy of Microsoft Office2007 was unsuccessful last month."

The owners of International Cigars are too good for Office2007? Geez, come on over to Seattle Weekly's shop, Mr. Informant. That would be a significant upgrade for many of us.

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