Seattle Police detectives say a Beacon Hill couple’s insatiable appetite for denim helped feed the downtown open-air drug market disrupted by the SPD and FBI earlier this year in Operation: Crosstown Traffic.
On Thursday, SPD’s Major Crimes Task Force arrested the 63-year-old husband and 58-year-old wife and served a warrant at their Beacon Hill home in the 1500 block of 12th Avenue S. Inside the home police found 400 pairs of jeans, perfume, toiletries, purses, and shoes that detectives believe were purchased for pennies on the dollar from downtown shoplifters. A storage locker belonging to the couple in the 1100 block of Poplar Place S was also searched with additional stolen goods found including seven boxes full of stolen jeans. Most of the stolen goods came from department stores and individual shops in downtown’s retail core.
In total, detectives recovered 1,590 items with a combined retail value from the attached price tags of $150,000.
“The Seattle Police Department’s concerted effort to address crime in Downtown continues to produce results and this bust is another significant step in the right direction,” said Downtown Seattle Association President and CEO Jon Scholes. “We’ve been working on issues of retail theft with SPD and Downtown businesses for years and breaking up this ring is certainly welcome news. We’re seeing public safety improvements in many areas of Downtown but more work remains.”
During the initial operation in April, Major Crimes detectives identified the suspect as one of many buying stolen goods from downtown shoplifters. Over the past 5 months, detectives have continued following-up on investigative leads digging deeper into the suspect’s illegal activity. Working in collaboration with the QFC/Fred Meyer Organized Retail Crime Team, detectives discovered the suspect was responsible for a significant amount of trafficking in the downtown core, including placing “orders” with shoplifters for specific items he would buy from them for a fraction of their retail value. Police continued to gather evidence against the suspect and his wife leading to their arrest and the search warrant for their property.
“This is another important step in our 9½ block strategy to tackle the illicit markets that drive crime in our city center,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “By going after the buyers of these stolen goods, we hope to provide much needed relief to the businesses and employees that struggle with theft every day.”
“This operation was the result of good police work and ongoing collaboration with those impacted by crime,” said Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “We are continuing our efforts to promote safe and vibrant neighborhoods throughout the City.”