February 21, 2015
Burglars have broken in twice at Jason Hall's dog grooming business in the heart of Seattle's affluent Magnolia neighborhood. The last time was the day after the Super Bowl.
"Turned around and our computer was gone," said Hall. "And all the money in the till, cleaned out."
He thinks the crooks could be stopped with harsher punishment.
"It's not so much the loss of the property as it is your sense of security," he said. "And you know -- all these small crimes add up to a quality of life issue."
So concerned are his neighbors, that about 150 of them crowded into a church hall Saturday.
They say they are willing to pay off-duty Seattle police or private security officers to prevent the property crimes that are a low priority for SPD.
“Do we have any information from other neighborhoods what made it effective?" asked Magnolia resident Askar Sattar.
"I'd like to know who's interested in this because I thought I was going to come here and just give you my $250 and kind of just get it started," said Claudia Heiden, a 17-year Magnolia resident. "Because I'm definitely interested."
How bad is crime in Magnolia? According to Joe Villarino, the resident spearheading the private patrols, last year there were four burglaries in Magnolia the first week of February.
This year, there were nine times as many.
"The neighbors here are getting really upset and frustrated," said Villarino who is also a private security expert. "But they feel that someone needs to be physically be out there patrolling. And if it's an off duty police officer, they're willing to pay a subscription to do that."
He says there is still a lot of work to do to make the patrols a reality.
But if enough residents are willing to pay about $250 per household, per year, private security officers could be on the job in Magnolia by May 1st.