West Seattle businesses team up to tackle property crime

VIDEO: West Seattle businesses team up to tackle property crime

Businesses are teaming up with the Seattle Police Department after a spike in property crime in the heart of West Seattle's shopping area.

They rolled out the city's first anti-crime Business Block Watch this week and it could be a prototype for business neighborhoods citywide.

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Falafel Salam, a West Seattle restaurant, was broken into again Friday night or early Saturday morning.

This time thieves targeted the food truck.

“It was definitely forced open,” said Marwan Hefny, who works at Falafel Salam. “It’s metal and when we came in today, it was bent open and someone had climbed in. There's a window and somebody had climbed in and done their thing.”

He said thieves stole some coats, water bottles and their printer, plus other seemingly random things.

“It kind of puts a damper in our step but we're definitely solution-oriented here,” Hefny said.

He's hoping the new Business Block Watch pilot in West Seattle will be part of that solution.

The Junction Association approached Seattle police about six months ago about the problem. The new program teams up businesses in the area with police to form what’s essentially a beefed up neighborhood watch.

Seattle police will evaluate locks, doors, windows and landscaping for businesses, and give advice on security cameras and alarms to improve safety.

There will also be electronic communication with all participating businesses so there's an easy way to alert everyone when a crime happens or share suspect descriptions. Plus the businesses will meet on a quarterly basis.

And those businesses will get a sticker to let any potential criminals know extra eyes are on these businesses.

“We do have a really good community here so I think getting everybody together and using the hive mind will have some good ideas,” Hefny said.

As is the case with most of Seattle, residents in the Junction area also say they've noticed the property crime growing along with the city.

“Obviously with more people there will be more crime,” said Alec Rodenhauser, who lives in west Seattle. “I actually have a friend who had his car stolen last night.”

He said he's glad to hear businesses are taking initiative.

“It makes me feel better as a resident. You don't want excessive amounts of crime, so if everyone is in it together we're all better off,” Rodenhauser said.

The Seattle Police Department said if this program in the Junction neighborhood is successful, it would like to roll out the program to other areas of the city.