We're on a roll when it comes to the public transit coverage this week. And why stop now! Especially when an alleged hoodlum was charged yesterday with etching slogans like "Loser" and "Eat My Shorts" into windows and bathrooms of Sounder trains.
As charging documents note:
Beginning in early August, 2012, the King County Sheriff's Office began investigating a series of vandalism reports regarding damage being done on the Sounder trains. Windows, mirrors and doors on the trains were being etched with an unknown device and different sayings ("EMS", "Eat my shorts", "Loser", etc) and designs were being etched on to various surfaces on the trains. In one car alone both bathroom windows, seven windows and eight door windows had been etched. All of the damage was on the interior of the car suggesting a passenger had committed the vandalism. The damage estimate as of 8/21/12 was approximately $25,000.00.
On 8/22/12 it was reported that another car had been damaged. In car 409 tagging was located on Door 7 and "EMS" and "TONES" were etched in the mirrors and paper towel holders. The door in Car 401 had "Tone5" and "FTB" etched into it.
While the damage kept coming through the early part of the month, in late August a run-in between Steik and a Sounder conductor in the bathroom helped solidify the case against him.
More from charging documents:
On 8/28/12 a conductor advised detectives that the vandalism suspect had been entering the 0625 train at the Tacoma Freight House Square and exiting the train at the Puyallup station. The conductor became suspicious of the suspect, later identified as defendant Steik, when she bumped into him in one of the restrooms. The conductor said that the restroom door was not locked and she entered the restroom and found the defendant standing in front of the sink mirror. The defendant exited and apologized for not locking the door. The conductor then noticed that both mirrors in the bathroom had been etched. The conductor saw the defendant exit and got a good description of him. She later saw him on the afternoon train and contacted detectives to advise them that he was on the train and had exited car number 216 at the Tacoma Freighthouse Square station. The conductor walked through the car and discovered the vandalism (two windows vandalized).
Armed with this information, authorities jumped into action.
Detectives then began conducting surveillance at the Tacoma station and observed the defendant enter the train at 0623 hours. Detectives followed the defendant and sat on separate ends of the car to watch him. The defendant sat on the inside toward a window. One witness observed the defendant etching the window while he was sitting there. When the defendant exited the train a detective followed him while another detective confirmed that the window he had been sitting at had been damaged. The detective contacted the defendant and detained him. The defendant was advised of his rights. He was searched incident to arrest and was found to be in possession of a small grinding bit. This bit was tested on a mirror and it was confirmed that it could be used for etching. The defendant declined to make a statement.
While authorities seem nearly certain Steik is the man behind all of the aforementioned Sounder vandalism in August, at this point he's only being charged with a the single window etching that police witnessed - which, according to charging documents, cost a staggering $2,864 to repair. Authorities say additional charges may be filed as the investigation continues.
Find the full charging documents filed against Steik below: