Many consumers have the option to give special instructions to delivery drivers. Asking them to leave a package out of sight, may help prevent a crime of opportunity. Kailan Manandic, photo illustration

Many consumers have the option to give special instructions to delivery drivers. Asking them to leave a package out of sight, may help prevent a crime of opportunity. Kailan Manandic, photo illustration

Roundup: Police Prepare for Porch Pirates; Kirkland Fro-Yo Shop Faces Fallout for Calling Cops on Black Man

A weekly look at headlines from around the region

• Police are on the lookout for “porch pirates” who are responsible for many of the vanishing packages at residences throughout the Eastside, King County, and the nation.

Some porch pirates stalk through neighborhoods, searching for unattended homes ripe for plunder, while others go as far as following UPS trucks, plucking packages from porches seconds after they arrive.

It’s a quick and easy profit for most thieves. When police catch a porch pirate, they may discover dozens of stolen gifts in the thief’s trove after only a single day of looting.

“To me it’s kind of the same thing as people prowling cars — it’s a crime of opportunity,” said Detective Jason Weiss with the Snoqualmie Police Department. “Eventually when we end up catching people in a car or on foot, we’ll end up with a lot of property that we don’t know who it belongs to, so it’s important to let us know what’s missing.”

Washingtonians are significantly more likely than Americans as a whole to have had a package stolen or know someone who has.

According to a Wakerfield Research survey commissioned by Comcast, 56 percent of surveyed Washingtonians know someone who has had a package stolen and 28 percent have experienced package theft themselves. The national averages are 44 percent and 23 percent respectively, according to the same survey.

While package theft has likely risen over the years as online marketplaces become prominent, the numbers aren’t reflected in police reports. Several Eastside police departments agree that’s because package thefts are vastly underreported.

Police records don’t differentiate between package or mail theft and any other property theft, so it’s difficult to accurately quantify how the problem has grown over the past few decades. But several departments don’t doubt the problem is worse than the numbers would reflect.

Many locals feel it’s not a crime worth reporting, police said, and they think they’re burdening police or that there’s no chance to catch the porch pirate even if they do report the crime.

Police argue that reporting the crimes is more important than many people think, even if they can’t catch the crook. Police allocate time and resources to issues based on how prominent the problem is and without accurate statistics, they can’t address a problem appropriately. — Bellevue Reporter

• An apologetic sign was taped to the door and a group of protesters gathered in front of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in Kirkland’s Totem Lake area earlier this month.

The activity followed the city of Kirkland and Kirkland Police Department issuing an apology after police were called on a black man on Nov. 7 while he was at Menchie’s.

In the police report, Kirkland officers said they responded to a call from the store’s owner Ramon Cruz after one of his employees called him saying there was a man in the store making her uncomfortable. Cruz asked police to ask the 31-year-old Byron Ragland to leave the store.

Ragland was at Menchie’s on Nov. 7 as a court-appointed special advocate and visitation supervisor who oversees meetings between children and parents who have lost custody of them. He was at the frozen yogurt shop with a mother and son at the time.

The store’s sign reads in part: “We humbly apologize to Mr. Ragland for what he experienced during his visit. This does not reflect our values, and we are genuinely sorry.” The store was closed today “in order to conduct training to our staff, so that we can make sure that this will not happen again in our store.” — Kirkland Reporter

• Federal Way police are investigating a former Enterprise Elementary parent-teacher association treasurer who is accused of embezzling over $13,474 from funds that were collected during various fundraisers.

The allegations came to light when the school’s PTA president and secretary reported the incident to police earlier this month. Both women stated that in February 2018, the suspect was voted to be the treasurer of the PTA, according to the Federal Way police report. She served as treasurer until her resignation on Nov. 20.

The PTA members related that since the woman had been treasurer, they had discovered approximately $13,474 missing from the PTA’s Bank of America checking account. Over $4,117 in cash was missing from a walk-a-thon, $500 cash from a fill-a-truck event via Goodwill, $4,000 from a silent auction and $2,000 from a Scholastic book fair, the report continues. The board members told police all of these events were held as fundraisers for the PTA and the cash was turned over to the suspect to deposit into the PTA’s bank account. — Federal Way Mirror

• A new Dick’s Drive-In officially opens Wednesday, Dec. 12, on Kent’s West Hill, the family-owned restaurant chain announced on Facebook.

A grand opening ceremony will be from 10 to 11 a.m. at the eatery, at 24220 Pacific Highway South, near the Midway Shopping Center, just south of the Lowe’s store on the east side of the road. The ribbon cutting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. It is the seventh Dick’s Drive-In, but the first one south of Seattle. The expansion is the first for the company since the Edmonds location opened in October 2011. Dick’s has five Seattle locations, including the original site that opened in 1954 in the Wallingford neighborhood, just west of the University of Washington. — Kent Reporter

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