Smash-and-grab turns Renton couple's lives into a nightmare

RENTON, Wash. — A Renton couple's daily lives turned into a nightmare after a routine visit to the park after work.

Jodi Hunt told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson that last month she and her husband, Neil, parked at Gene Coulon Park for 10 minutes while they went to go get fish and chips from Ivar's nearby. When Jodi and Neil returned to the car, they found that someone had broken the window and taken Jodi's purse from under the seat.

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Losing a purse with cash and credit cards would be traumatizing enough, but because Jodi, who moved here from the U.K., had happened to take tax documents to work to fax that day, the thieves were able to grab her green card, British passport, and tax forms that included the couple's social security numbers and bank account data.

"What they got their hands on was actually way more damaging than we could have ever realized," she said, describing it as "everything that identifies me, really."

The nightmare didn't end there, however. Jodi's spare car keys had been in the stolen purse. Having access to the Hunts' address on the tax forms, the thieves came to the couple's residence in the middle of the night and stole their 2017 vehicle.

Feeling that they were no longer safe in their own home, the Hunts lived in fear of a break-in.

"I was so convinced they were trying to get into our apartment, I had to move a bookcase in front of the door at night," she said. "I just didn't know how far they would take it at this point, because clearly coming to our house wasn't out of the question."

Eventually, the couple moved to a different apartment to try to shake the thieves. But Jodi and Neil are now dealing with the hurdle of identity theft. Jodi said that she and her husband are constantly finding new bank accounts and credit cards that the thieves have opened with their social security numbers.

Jodi said that the police are trying to help find the criminals and the car, but that law enforcement officers are overwhelmed by the number of similar crimes in the area.

"They have so many of these cases that there's only so much they can do," Jodi said.

Perhaps worst of all for the couple, however, has been the way that their fellow King County residents have responded to the crime. After the story was shared in the media, Jodi said that the comments she and Neil received were ones that blamed the victims rather than the criminals. She said that while she realizes she should not have left her purse in the car, it should not be the norm that people assume their items will be stolen in the course of just a few minutes.

"I think it's really sad, honestly, not being from here, that that was how the community reacted," Jodi said.

Jodi has lived all around the world, and said that even the most poverty-stricken nations do not have such an acceptance of crime as Seattle.

"I've lived in third-world countries and [the attitude] is not like that," Jodi said.