Mercer Island Residential Burglaries Highest Since 2004

Mercer Island Police officers Rob Jira and Shawn Griffin offer crime prevention tips at a Jan. 8 Rotary International meeting.

A spike in burglaries in 2012, and particularly home burglaries, on Mercer Island helped prompt a Mercer Island Police Department presentation on public safety to the Rotary Club of Mercer Island on Jan. 8.

Mercer Island police officers Rob Jira and Shawn Griffin told the audience that while the community was second only to Sammamish in the lowest rates of crime on the Eastside, but Mercer Island had developed a reputation as something of an "easy target". Jira said that of those caught and arrested, nearly 2/3 were off-Island residents who had come over I-90 to commit a crime.

"When we catch (suspected burglars) and interview them they tell us 'It’s a great score, and everybody leaves their doors unlocked',” he said.

There were 87 burglaries on Mercer Island in 2012, according to preliminary statistics released by the MIPD (click on the image of a statistical graph to the right of this story to enlarge). Police also documented 250 theft incidents in 2012 and 7 car thefts — lower than last year, when a rash of car prowls drove thefts skywards — but burglaries saw a significant increase over 59 in 2011 and 24 percent above the average over the past decade. The last time burglary was this prevalent on Mercer Island was in 2004, when 102 burglaries were reported in an unusually busy crime year.

"We are seeing increase in daytime and interrupted burglary." Jira said. "Right now, they’re getting a lot more bold in their tactics, but there’s a lot you can do to prevent this."

Jira said that a recent City Hall satisfaction survey of residents said that 94 percent of repondents said they "feel safe", but the perception can give residents a false sense of security. He said the MIPD was encouraging residents to take preventative measures and "make it harder" for criminals to break in to local homes and businesses.

Two key crime prevention tactics that the public can use that have the biggest impact are locking doors to homes, garages, vehicles and businesses, and using an alarm system.

"It also increases our chances of getting your stuff back, and, maybe even catching them," Jira said.

MIPD also has the ability to fight crime thanks to an ability to pay attention to detail, unlike larger departments.

He described a call he had been on earlier that morning on Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 12:30 a.m., when an officer reported a suspicious vehicle near the high school and discovered through a license plate check that it was an off-Island vehicle. The officer later detained and arrested several people for criminal tresspass after he saw them peering into windows of several homes, and found they were carrying "tools" commonly used in burglaries: gloves, stocking caps, screwdrivers, baseball bats and other items.

Officer Griffin, who focused on crime in the business community, said one of the biggest issues he sees is the opportunity that retail businesses present to a criminal element, such as a July 9 shoplifting incident when two men tried to steal approximately $2,000 in liquor from the North-end QFC. He also mentioned several other incidents when businesses found unsecured belongings were stolen as they conducted their daily affairs, and cautioned businesses to stay aware of conflict in the workplace and prevent violence before it happens.

"If a product can be re-sold, they will steal it," he said. "Help us to be a deterrent. Don’t make it easy for them."

More Patch police coverage on burglaries:

  • Burglars Hit Several Homes in a Week on Mercer Island — Mercer Island Police Blotter
  • Protecting your Valuables in a Burglary
  • Police Blotter: Burglars Ransack Madrona Crest Home
  • Police Blotter: Tony Maroni's Struck in Daylight Burglary
  • Police Blotter: Woman Interrupts Home Burglary
Rouchard Duprie January 15, 2013 at 08:17 PM
It's foolish to count on elected officials to keep us safe. We as individuals are responsible for our own safety as well as the safety of the community. The Supreme Court has stated our honorable LEO's are not required or obligated to defend and protect the citizenry. It's been said, we have the community and society we deserve.
Michelle Kauffman, Personal Insurance Advisor January 16, 2013 at 03:48 PM
To add to these tips, I have blogged before about having professionally installed wall and floor safes for valuable items which burglars usually look for. Last year in West Seattle, burglars were casing houses by knocking on doors. After they broke in, they would go and get a kitchen knife in case anyone was in house. This way they would get much less jail time if caught. My client was home when they knocked and her neighbors home was burglarized instead. They stole jewelry and she found her own large kitchen knife in her bed. This really frightened me as we always instruct our teenager to never answer the door when we are gone.
Michelle Kauffman, Personal Insurance Advisor January 16, 2013 at 04:07 PM
In the event of a burglary or other insurance claim, you will want to know what you have in the first place. The Insurance Information Institute also has developed a new app and program to inventory your personal property. I have not tried it myself but it is on my weekend list. https://www.knowyourstuff.org/iii/login.html Remember that you need to have enough insurance for replacement value coverage on your personal property as well as having replacement cost for personal property on your insurance policy. For example, you may think your old TV has a $50 value but the cost 10 years ago may have been $3500. The replacement cost would be what a similar new TV would be today. Many people underestimate how much personal property they really have. Another example is clothing. If you and your spouse spend and average of $5000 a year on clothes, you will likely have $50,000 plus in your closet from the past 10 years. If you asked my spouse, he would tell you that he never spends more than a few hundred per year on clothes!
Thommy Guhn April 06, 2013 at 07:51 PM
There are two more deterrents: Smith & Wesson.
Rouchard Duprie April 06, 2013 at 08:22 PM
Joe Biden recommends discharging a shot gun through your front door, bedroom door, or from your front porch to foil or deter a person with criminal intent. Fortunately, most of us know better. I walked by a four way stop downtown this past week and observed the majority of drivers coasting through the intersection, many of them talking on their cell phones. There seems to be little incentive for people to respect the rule of law when there is very little, if any enforcement. Again, we have the community we deserve.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »