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SODO business owners concerned over ongoing criminal activity

Property crime is overwhelming some businesses in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood with much of the activity happening in the early morning hours.

SEATTLE — Property crime is overwhelming some businesses in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood. Landlords and business owners say they are filing police reports, but the criminal activity is not slowing down.

Dan Byrne owns four buildings and has tenants in SODO.

"This is the location where the lock was broken right here,” said Byrne as he showed the damage at one of his properties.

The crime, caught on camera about a week ago, shows thieves spending time in the early morning hours at the SODO business.

"They take a saw, cut the catalytic converters out, ride away on a bicycle with them,” said Byrne. “Who knows where they go?”

In addition to catalytic converters, Byrne’s tenant lost batteries and fuel too.

"We have video of a box truck at three in the morning towing an eco-block which is a 2,000-pound block of concrete, bouncing along here on Dakota Street at 25 miles an hour. You know, just unhampered by anybody,” he said. 

Nearby, at another building Byrne owns, the tenants are tallying their losses too. RD Interiors predominantly does real estate staging. The business is bouncing back after what happened in August.

“We caught someone on camera, lighting a bush on fire, and it lit the entire facade in the interior of our building on fire,” said General Manager James Chapman. “Thankfully our sprinklers stopped it from getting far back. But it still costs six figures in damage."

Chapman adds that it is not just the fire. There have been thefts too.

"We actually haven't reported some of this stuff to insurance just because we don't want our rates to go up,” he said.

As the costs of dealing with crime goes up, the neighborhood is banding together.

"There's 1,200 businesses here in SODO that support Seattle,” said Byrne.

"We've been really working with our businesses to report crime, because a lot of them have given up,” said Erin Goodman, the Executive Director of the SODO Business Improvement Area.

The SODO BIA plans to soon bring their concerns to city council, hoping to find help.

"It is almost demoralizing because you feel like no matter how hard you try to create jobs, create a good place for people to work, you've got this man-made kind of problem coming at us that we really just can't seem to figure out how to solve,” said Byrne.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell's office sent the following statement in regard to the criminal activity:

"Mayor Harrell remains committed to a holistic approach to improving public safety and reducing crime in Seattle, recognizing issues created over the course of years cannot be solved overnight. Given SPD’s significant staffing shortage, the mayor is working to hire more police officers through the Comprehensive Recruitment and Retention Plan, ensuring a well-staffed and well-trained police department that is responsive to community needs. In addition to law enforcement, the City continues to advance a comprehensive approach to safety that focuses on implementing community-based solutions that include neighborhood activation, economic revitalization, and beautification efforts.

Seattle’s small business owners deserve to be heard and have their concerns addressed. Input from local businesses informed the creation of the Storefront Repair Fund, which provides tangible financial support to business owners to help them get back to baseline and recover following property damage. The Mayor’s Office and the Office of Economic Development will continue to engage with the SODO BIA, small business owners, and community stakeholders to understand their needs and develop meaningful solutions to the issues they face."

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