On January 12, officers along with members of the Tukwila City Attorney’s Office and King County Prosecutor’s Office met with members of the Washington Organized Retail Crime Association (WAORCA) to discuss organized retail crime (ORC) in our city and region. Members of the organization include owners of small businesses, Loss Prevention Officers, Organized Retail Crime Investigators and Director’s/Managers of Loss Prevention and Security from multiple stores and properties both in and around Tukwila.
The purpose of the meeting was to share information, listen, learn and collaborate on ways to further disrupt ORC organizations and individuals in our city and region. It was also to arm our retail partners with the knowledge they need to understand the elements of crime, laws relating to trespassing and how we can and will respond to their calls for assistance. Those committing these crimes are doing so for profit and not out of necessity. This is a common misconception of those who believe that these crimes are being committed for the purpose of suspects putting clothes on their backs and food on the table.
Everyone in the room shared examples of recent losses with combined totals of close to a million or more dollars. One store representative brought up the example of an individual who was responsible for $200k in stolen merchandise. Similar stories were shared along with photos of ORC suspects who were recognized by individuals in the room from multiple different entities present representing businesses in multiple cities. This just demonstrates how widespread this problem is and how organized these crews are that they are hopping between cities and in some instances counties.
Other store owners brought up aggressive suspects who would become extremely aggressive when approached or confronted by employees. This is a common tactic used by ORC thieves in an effort to throw a tantrum, make a scene and attempt to intimidate those trying to stop them while also creating a distraction for other members of their group(s).
We are not intimidated nor are the businesses that these thieves are victimizing. Our Community Police Team (CPT) detectives and officers have been proactively seeking out known ORC thieves in stores and in the area, recovering thousands of dollars in merchandise, recovering the stolen cars that the ORC suspects are arriving in, making warrant arrests, arresting those that we have cause to arrest and formally trespassing the same individuals from the stores and properties they are victimizing. The formal trespass warnings allow for officers to arrest the suspect(s) on the spot if they return to the property following the issuance of the trespass warning.
What benefit does all of that have to the community as a whole? These same ORC thieves are stealing vehicles from residents and or visitors and using the proceeds of their ORC thefts to finance other criminal activity with several ORC suspects being associated with shootings, robberies, burglaries and other crimes. These additional crimes all impact residents and visitors to our city and the region as a whole. These continued contacts, arrests and pressure helps to keep these individuals out of the city which we have seen over the past several months with a drop of calls for service in December which corresponded with an increase in officer initiated proactive contacts to contact, detain and or arrest those in the city solely for the purpose of committing crimes.
We encourage everyone to partner with us by calling 9-1-1 to report emergencies, (206) 241-2121 to report suspicious activity or non-emergencies and to file reports online at tukwilapdreports.com These calls and reports allow us to better gauge what is happening around the city and deploy our resources accordingly. Public safety is a collaborative effort between the community, businesses and police department.