‘They are destroying the fabric of our neighborhood’: Seattle crime spikes, mayor pledges fix

SEATTLE — New 2021 data from the Seattle Police Department shows crime in Seattle is up — way up. The increases are nearly across the board, ranging from shootings to robberies to property crime.

Seattle’s new mayor, Bruce Harrell, says his office is working as fast as possible to turn things around, and shared some of the city’s plans to do that Friday morning.

“We will not look the other way when people are engaging in disruptive behavior committing crimes. They are destroying the fabric of our neighborhood,” Harrell said.

Numbers from SPD show that in 2021 compared to 2020:

  • Property crime increased 9%.
  • Shootings and shots fired increased 40%, an all-time high for Seattle.
  • Violent crime overall is up 20%; robberies and aggravated assaults are up, while homicide and rape are down.

“When I see what I see what I continue to see out here, I can’t sleep at night,” Harrell said.

Blake Richardson works in downtown Seattle.

“It’s just crazy. There was a gunshot the other day, and I was on my break and going to get a cup of coffee,” Richardson said.

A man was shot just a couple of blocks from Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market in the middle of the afternoon on Jan. 19.

Near First Avenue and Pike Street, multiple stores have windows boarded up. Sneaker City is closing, moving to online only because of increased rent and crime.

Seattle Shirt Company says break-ins have been rampant. A manager said on Friday that the store has been targeted seven times in the last three months.

Seattle police say the downtown Seattle Target store has called 911 a total of 659 times in 2021.

Sock Harbor across the street hasn’t been hit nearly as hard, but the business is certainly not spared.

“Seen an increase in drug use and people coming in trying to support that by stealing items,” said David Woodley, manager at Sock Harbor.

Some Seattle businesses like “A Bit of Taste,” an olive oil company in Queen Anne, say crime is pushing them out of the city. The store plans to relocate to Snohomish.

Harrell is renewing his promises to bring changes.

“We will not tolerate organized retail theft that’s become rampant in our city, that’s causing businesses to close and leave,” Harrell said.

He says in his first month as mayor, he has directed SPD to focus on the places where crime is most concentrated.

One area getting attention is 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street in Little Saigon.

Harrell said in the first three weeks of January, police have made 37 arrests from this area, 23 of them felony arrests.

The mayor also pledged more housing and help coming for the unsheltered, and people suffering from substance abuse.

Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell said the city is also aggressively seeking more resources from the state and federal governments.

“The one thing that should be very clear with this team is we understand the holistic approach of what it’s going to take to bring public safety to the city of Seattle,” Harrell said. “What are the other avenues we’ll be taking to ensure we’re not taking every single problem and throwing it on our police department, and spilling that to our fire department,” she said.