By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Seattle’s police chief had lunch with Chinatown-International District (CID) business owners on Aug. 24—who are on edge after recent break-ins and burglaries.
Adrian Diaz told the Northwest Asian Weekly, “We have been doing community roll calls with a couple squads of our officers in the CID, Little Saigon, and 12th and Jackson, trying to address the people selling a lot of the stolen goods.” Diaz said thieves have been breaking into businesses and selling the merchandise at an “outdoor flea market” on 12th Avenue. The market comes and goes, he said, and now, it appears that it is ramping up.
“We’re trying to address that with very strategic operations about where they’re getting goods and trafficking those stolen goods, and coupled with… having a visible presence and we’ve included not only our officers but our Community Service Officers as well.”
Mr. Cui, who owns Jian He Hang on 657 South Jackson, said three people broke into his shop last week, stealing or damaging items totalling $20,000.
“The thieves were in there for about 15 to 20 minutes. There were people walking around and a bus stop outside the shop, but nobody cares,” Cui told the Northwest Asian Weekly.
He was tipped off to the break-in when his alarm went off.
“The alarm company called the police and nothing happened so I have no choice but to come down to Chinatown to protect my property.”
Cui rushed to his store from his home and caught the thieves inside red-handed. Armed with a stick, he chased the suspects out of his store until one of them fired a shot in the air—stopping Cui as he feared for his safety.
The Seattle Police Department (SPD) confirmed to the Northwest Asian Weekly that the man who fired the shot was arrested the following morning at a homeless encampment at 8th and King—it’s unknown if the man lived at the encampment. The man was identified through surveillance video captured on Ciu’s system.
It was the second time that day that Cui’s store was targeted. Cui has since repaired his locks, and installed a lock at his cash register.
Seattle Vision Clinic, on the same block, has been the target of a number of break-ins this year.
Mr. Wong, the owner of Asia Bar-B-Que, on 655 South Jackson, said a man ran into his shop this week and stole the tip jar.
“I also chased the thief,” Wong told the Northwest Asian Weekly. “Although there wasn’t a lot of money in the jar, that’s not right.”
On the other side of the block, Richard Chang, said his restaurant, Kau Kau BBQ, has experienced two break-ins and numerous unsuccessful attempts since the pandemic put a stop to indoor dining in March 2020.
From broken windows, to cash drawers ransacked—Chang hoped that installing a security gate would prevent further break-ins and damage.
But to add insult to injury, a contractor who was supposed to install that security gate ran off with $3,000 that Chang had given as a deposit. Chang has retained an attorney to sue the contractor.
Citing crime data for the CID from the beginning of 2021 through July, Diaz said that while crime is lower, there has been a noticeable increase in aggravated assault (includes shots fired, or shootings, as well as motor vehicle theft). There is a decline in burglary but Diaz said it could be due to victims not reporting. He stressed the importance of reporting every incident.
Diaz said SPD officers have also been doing crime prevention type work, meeting with businesses and addressing issues like lighting and video cameras.
“I wish I had the ability to have a lot more officers on the streets,” Diaz said. “We lost 300 officers over the last year… that’s the equivalent of 600,000 hours of patrol officer hours.”
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.