King County prosecutors combat repeat offenders and increase in commercial break-ins

King County prosecutors combat repeat offenders and increase in commercial break-ins

“It’s basically like someone kicking you while you’re down, that is literally how it feels,” says Mike Vu, an owner of restaurant Kaname Izakaya & Shochu Bar. The bar and restaurant has been shut down since March following the Governor’s stay home, stay safe order. Now Vu is facing insult to injury after having his eater broken into last week.  “People are becoming more brazen.”

Seattle Police since arrested the suspected and prosecutors rush filed charges against him. The suspect already had three pending theft cases against him at the time of his most recent arrest, highlighting that even quarantine can’t slow down Seattle’s repeat offender problem.

“In those cases particularly with repeat offenders we are asking the court to hold them in custody, we are rush filing those charges,” says senior deputy prosecutor, Stephanie Knightlinger.

And that’s just one case. Prosecutors have rushed to file charges on several suspects in commercial break-ins last week, all of whom are repeat offenders. “We had one offender last week, a suspect who we were able to charge who had two arrests for burglary within just a matter of days.”

Given the jails efforts to keep capacity lower because of COVID-19, not every suspect can be held for a nonviolent offense. Looking at the jail roster, a couple recent commercial burglary suspects were released the next day. But prosecutors are pushing back on some of them. Court documents for a recent burglary case read “the state is concerned the defendant is likely to interfere with the administration of justice given that he broke into the business amidst a mandatory stay at home order.”

Prosecutors say it’s clear-not everyone is staying home, particularly in the downtown area. It’s something SPD has continuously seen over the last two months: an increase in commercial break-ins and criminals taking advantage of businesses being closed. SPD and prosecutors say they don’t want anyone to think they get a free pass because of COVID-19.  “We really just don’t have to see people have a disproportionate impact on the community particularly at a time when so many businesses are struggling and our officers are out there really on the front line.”

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