SEATTLE POLICE FIND A TRUCKLOAD OF STOLEN CELL PHONES
Laptops, cameras and watches at Seattle convenience store
October 26, 2014
(SEATTLE, WA) -- Seattle Police busted an alleged "fencing" operation this week that was doing a brisk business in stolen laptops, cell phones and cameras.
Stolen cell phones recovered from convenience store in Seattle by police. Photo:SPD. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Police had received information that a small, cluttered convenience store on a busy street near Rainier Beach was doing a lot of fencing in stolen goods -- buying and selling electronics, stolen in a rash of robberies in the neighborhood.
When officers walked into the store with a search warrant on Thursday, that was the end result of a chain of events that had started when robberies began to pick up speed in South Seattle toward the end of summer.
The SPD's South Precinct commanders focused extra officers on foot beats and bike patrols in the hardest hit areas and as a result muggings in the emphasis areas dropped, and police then began working to find where all those stolen electronics ended up.
They found that many of the items ended up in that convenience store. When police walked in with the search warrant and found the trove of stolen goods they arrested the 48-year-old shop owner for trafficking in stolen property, according to an SPD statement.
Detectives requested that the exact location not be disclosed as they continue their investigation. “It’s pretty bad, the number of phones we found here,” said South Precinct burglary/theft Sergeant Steve Daman. The back room was also stuffed with laptops and cameras.
Investigators also found new clothes, shoes and bed spreads still in their packaging. In another room, a pile of bicycles sat next an inoperative industrial refrigerator.
Along with the more than 250 smartphones and hundreds of cameras, computers, watches and instruments found in the store – a number of which Robbery Detectives have already tied to crimes in Rainier Beach – detectives also found $13,000 in cash, boxes of untaxed cigarettes illegally imported from Vietnam, and cabinets filled with bags of Khat -- a plant leaf stimulant classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule-1 controlled substance.
“This is a great example of patrol officers catching suspects, getting information and working with detectives to find where these stolen goods are going,” says South Precinct Captain Dave Proudfoot. “This sends a message to those who would victimize our community that this isn’t acceptable.”
Detectives are still sorting through the hundreds of items seized from the business and are working with SPD’s Robbery Unit to connect the suspected stolen electronics to open cases.