Police-defunded Seattle: Over a dozen incidents of teens being robbed after school by suspects in stolen vehicles

SEATTLE, WA - On Wednesday, October 25th, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) held a press conference addressing the more than a dozen incidents of teens being robbed within the last month.

According to Todd Kibbee, SPD assistant chief of operations, the trend has been happening between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. when the young kids are coming home from school.

Kibbee said that suspects driving stolen cars either jump out of the vehicle to rob the teens or sneak up and surprise them from behind. In some cases, the suspects have brandished a gun and even become violent with the young teens, which are predominately boys.

He added, "All of these robberies of students coming home from schools is impacting families. It's giving a lot of stress to families of our students and I want to assure the people that the Seattle Police Department is very aware of that and we are doing everything we can to mitigate that."

On Tuesday, the day before the press conference, police said that there were three more robberies on the Roosevelt neighborhood and near Bishop Blanchet High School.

Since September 19th, there have been 14 reported robberies. Kibbee said that there certainly could be more that simply were not reported. According to investigators, the suspects are looking to steal phones, AirPods and other personal property.

Investigators believe that a group of as many as six teenagers wearing ski masks or hoodies are the ones who have robbed several people of electronics and other personal belongings. Kibbee said, "It's happening all over the north end."

The suspects were allegedly driving a red Kia, a gray Hyundai or a sedan of a similar color. Investigators said that they have found two stolen vehicles that are believed to be involved in the robberies.

A Ballard High School senior said that on October 19th, his friend was robbed; an incident confirmed by the SPD. The senior said, "This is the worst I've ever seen it. It's happened in broad daylight. He looked down at his phone and by the time he looked up, he was surrounded by five guys and eventually these guys told him, 'Sit on the ground.' They made him reset their phone, tell them their password and they took their AirPods, phones."

SPD has been trying to help Seattle Public Schools, but Kibbee said that it is difficult to monitor over 20 schools. He has urged parents to have conversations with their kids about situational awareness, including putting away their phones and taking out headphones in order to be mindful of their surroundings.

Parents of those who have been victims of the recent robberies are urging other parents to contact the school board and city council, demanding action from SPD. The department responded by saying it will step up patrols "when staffing allows."

SPD has been facing a staffing shortage in the last three years, which according to reports, has resulted in "only 937 police officers available for deployment in the city as of August 31, 2023."

In a letter addressed to parents, Ballard High School Principal Abby Hunt said she is "working closely with regional school leaders and the district's Safety and Security team on best practices in keeping our campuses safe."
 
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