• Clyde Hill police arrest package thieves; not all victims identified

    By: Amy Clancy


    Clyde Hill police officer Jason Czebotar had just started his shift at noon on Dec. 22 when a 911 call came in.

    The caller had just witnessed someone grabbing packages from her parents' front porch on 85th Avenue Northeast.

    Czebotar's dispatcher described the suspects' vehicle -- a white car with a blue hood -- just as that same car approached him on 95th Avenue Northeast, about a block from the Clyde Hill Police Department.

    "It was coming toward me," Czebotar told KIRO 7.

    So he turned around, followed the vehicle, hit the lights and pulled the car over -- just blocks from the on-ramp to Highway 520.

    Two other Clyde Hill officers arrived within moments.

    "There were three people inside, crammed in there," Cpl Nathan Cobrea said.  "Looking through the windows in the back of the car, we could see packages.  We could see boxes that were broken down and flattened out and tucked, hidden."

    The officers thought they had stopped the suspects from a single theft case, until another 911 call quickly came in: the owner of a nearby home had received a cellphone alert that a man had just removed a package from his front porch on Northeast 21st Street.

    Officers from the nearby Medina Police Department secured the video and emailed it to the Clyde Hill officers, who compared it to the suspects in the car they'd just pulled-over.

    "In the video, it shows him getting out of the car, running up to the porch, grabbing the package and running back into the car," Czebotar said.

    The suspect was wearing "same clothes, same car" according to Cobrea.  "Evidence inside the car that we could see in the video, all of those combined, this case was a done-deal."

    Lt Kyle Kolling of the Clyde Hill PD estimated, the time between the first 911 call and the suspects being pulled-over was "less than five minutes."

    KIRO 7 obtained evidence pictures from inside the suspects' white Hyundai Tiberon that show more than two dozen stolen items, including gift cards, clothing, toys and electronics.

    The suspects "were just driving around in neighborhoods," Lt Kolling told KIRO 7.  "The driver would pull up, the passenger would jump out, grab a package and go right back into the car."

    Kolling said the female passenger in the back seat unpackaged the items and folded the cardboard boxes.

    "It was a good feeling, knowing that I was going to be able to return the items that were stolen" from the Clyde Hill victims, Czebotar said.

    However, not all items have been returned because not all of the victims have been identified.

    Investigators have sent information about the suspects -- and items taken --- to other law enforcement agencies, hoping to solve more crimes.

    But not as quickly.

    The Clyde Hill Police Department solved two package thefts in about five minutes, according to Kolling.  "It was great teamwork," he said.

    Cobrea advised package thieves to stay away from Clyde Hill.  "We'll respond quickly, and we'll get them."

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