Magnolia residents may hire off-duty cops to battle property crime

Neighbors in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood say an increase in theft and a poor response from police are forcing them to hire their own security.

SEATTLE -- Neighbors in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood are banding together to fight crime. They say an increase in theft and a poor response from the Seattle Police Department are forcing them to hire their own security.

Residents say they've seen an increase in burglaries and car theft. In just the past week, two neighbors said their car windows were smashed and valuables were stolen.

Lauren Nichols' home was burglarized.

"So they broke the window and were able to reach in and unlock our door," said Nichols.

Nichols says she would love to see extra patrols in her neighborhood and she wants police to take burglaries more seriously. She also wants better response times from officers.

"So that felt really scary that the police didn't prioritize coming to our house," said Nichols.

Seattle Police said in December 2014 that it was ramping up its efforts to address property crime and reduce response wait times, but residents in Magnolia say they aren't seeing any improvement.

"Property crimes in Magnolia seem to be abundant from packages stolen off porches to cars being stolen," said reporter Steven Smalley of the blog MagnoliaVoice.com

More than 100 people gathered over the weekend to consider hiring off-duty officers patrolling Magnolia. Concerned citizens want more than a handful of officers to tackle what they estimate to be a nine percent increase in property crime compared to this time last year.

The Laurelhurst neighborhood started a private security pilot program a few years ago. More than 300 families pay into the fund and they say they've seen a drop in property crime, according to the Seattle Times. Whittier Heights started private patrols a few weeks ago.

A Seattle police official told KING 5 Friday that a statement would be provided for this story, but no statement was received by Monday morning's story deadline.

SPD released January crime numbers for the city on February 18. To look at the stats for the West Precinct, which includes the Magnolia Neighborhood, click here.


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