Burien Police Chief Kimerer Analyzes Burien’s Recent Burglary Reports

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by Scott Schaefer

UPDATE THURS. 6/3/10: Police Chief Scott Kimerer dropped by our booth at the Farmers Market today, and alerted us that the King County Sheriff’s interactive crime map referenced within this story is not currently 100% accurate, as the city’s new borders are not included. What this basically means is that, with a larger footprint, Burien’s crime rates will organically be higher than they were previously.

Also, the Chief wanted us to mention that, while some of the percentages used in the story seem high (ie: 25% increase), keep in mind that on a per-month basis, a 25% increase could mean going from six incidents to eight.

PREVIOUSLY: Recently, numerous residents of Burien’s Gregory Heights and Three Tree Point neighborhoods have shown concerns about an increase in residential burglaries, garnering attention from “mainstream media” throughout the northwest.

Some Burienites have done this by posting missives on blogs, forums and neighborhood group pages. We’ve read several ourselves that are on the verge of paranoia, often posted moments after an unknown vehicle has driven by.

Others have gone so far as to post threatening, brightly-colored vigilante-esque signs encouraging residents to “get out your guns” on telephone poles (NOTE: we believe that it’s illegal to post signs on telephone poles in Burien; we won’t speculate on the legalities of encouraging vigilantism, but rest assured we’re not fans…).

Should Burien residents "get out your guns" as this sign encourages in both English and Spanish?

Burien Police Chief Scott Kimerer reports that during the month of May there were eight burglaries reported in this area, known to law enforcement as “N4” (EDITOR’S NOTE: our review of the interactive KCSO Crime Map for area N4 shows that there were actually nine – link here), with four in Gregory Heights and two in Three Tree Point. This is an increase of +25% (two more) over April, which had only six reported burglaries or attempted burglaries.

Compared with other Burien areas, the nine reported burglaries in N4 (including attempted burglaries) in May is not the most – that honor belongs to area N2, which had a total of 12 for the month, an increase of +25% over April. N2 is bordered by “about 8th Ave SW” on the west, S. 128th on the north, Des Moines Memorial Way on the east, and SW 144th on the south (see map below).

Another interesting trend we found is that burglaries (and attempted ones) in Burien have increased by +22% from 2009 to 2010, according to the KCSO interactive crime map. Breaking this down shows that, for area N4, there have already been 34 for 2010, vs. 27 for the same period in 2009 – an increase of approximately +21%.

So it’s obvious that this form of crime is definitely trending upward this year in Burien.

Kimerer emphasizes that these analyses are based on “actual” reports – if a crime happens and it’s not reported, police don’t consider it a crime and it doesn’t enter their database. To wit, we encourage all our Readers to report any suspicious activities immediately to police (yes, that means dialing 911), and be sure to file a report with an officer if indeed a crime occurs. This is how police determine what (and how many) resources to put into different parts of our city.

Burien's "N2" neighborhood had 12 burglaries/attempts in May, 25% more than "N4."

Another good strategy is to develop your own Block Watch program involving as many of your neighbors as possible. Not only is this a great way to fight crime, it’s also a great way to finally meet the people you live near. Burien Police, especially longtime officers like Sgt. Henry McLachlan, are easily reachable and available to participate. And it’s pretty easy to keep an eye on your neighbor’s house when you know they’re out of town or at work, and we’ve heard many stories of people seeing trucks or moving vans being loaded and just assuming that nothing unusual is going on…until of course it’s too late.

In the end, we believe that the best way to fight crime is to work together, as neighbors, residents and law enforcement officers. Don’t wait for crime to happen – take action now to prevent it.

Oh, and please leave the “get out your guns” vigilantism off your next batch of signs – we don’t want to report on a neighbor kid getting shot because someone didn’t recognize him.

The Chief sent us the following email on Wednesday (June 2), which we’re printing in its entirety:


Burien Police Chief Scott Kimerer

I wanted to follow up with you on our analysis of burglaries in the Gregory Heights neighborhood. In looking at the reported crimes, we have had a total of 27 burglaries year-to-date in all of southwest Burien which also includes the Maplewild and Three Tree Point neighborhoods. There were 8 burglaries in the month of May in which 4 were reported in the greater Gregory Heights area and 2 in the Three Tree Point/Maplewild neighborhood. I need to emphasize that these are the burglary reports. Our response to specific crime problems is based on the reported incidents, if they are not reported; it is difficult to determine that an area in our community is having a crime issue. These reported numbers do reflect an increase over the previous months, but there is no discernable pattern. That being said, any crime that effects our citizens is one too many and our job will continue to be our best effort to prevent and solve these crimes.

I have appreciated the feedback and awareness that was created in Burien surrounding one of the most prolific crime problems that plague our city. Burglaries are difficult to prevent because in most cases it is a crime of stealth and concealment. It is also a crime of opportunity. In some cases, a victim leaves and returns a short time later to find their house burglarized. Someone was watching. In half the cases, there was no force to enter the house. It does make this crime easier and quicker. The likelihood that an officer will be in a neighborhood when the suspect darts behind a house or is able to recognize a vehicle that does not belong in that neighborhood is remote. It is much more likely that a neighbor will be able to see or recognize activity that seems out of place. That is where the true strength lies in preventing crime in our community. Most burglars are caught through a lengthy investigative process or by neighbors calling when observing suspicious activity. Block Watches have proven to be a very effective tool for preventing crime in a neighborhood. The Burien Police Department will be available to help start these programs. On behalf of the men and women of the Burien Police, I appreciate our citizens continued support and we will work tirelessly to keep our community safe.

Chief Scott Kimerer

K. Scott Kimerer
Police Chief/City of Burien
206-296-3342 office/voice mail
206-296-0916 fax

Here’s a graphic of area N4 – to utilize the King County Sheriff’s interactive map, click here:

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13 Responses to “Burien Police Chief Kimerer Analyzes Burien’s Recent Burglary Reports”
  1. Rainycity says:

    Most of this crap is probably being caused by one small group of thieves,, Shoot them and watch the burglaries decrease.

  2. Sara says:

    I still don’t understand why you news folks refer to it as vigilantism. Are you stating that I am going out to the streets and looking for people to go and shoot? In my opinion (yes, it’s an opinion), if you are going to come into my house when the door is locked and you know that it’s not your house and your intention is to come in anyway and take things that don’t belong to you and potentially cause harm to myself and/or my family, damn right you’re going to get what’s coming to you. Whether it be from a gun, knife, bat, etc. I don’t understand why home owners who are taking measures to protect their home and family from people who are knowingly doing wrong – are being called vigilantes.

    People are fed up with the trash/thugs that are roaming the ares. What good is it to call 911 and then sit and do nothing while your house is being broken into because you’re waiting for the police to respond to your call? I’m all about having police involvement. In fact, the same area that you are now seemingly not agreeing with regarding their efforts – has in fact started up a block watch and all of those people have in fact exchanged phone calls, phone numbers and emails. I know because I am one of them. There are many of us who do have permits to own guns and do carry them – and will not be afraid to use them when someone who knows right from wrong is going to go ahead and do wrong anyway.

    I was happy that the B-Town Blog had chosen to publish my initial letter and do follow up on it to get the word out. But some of your comments in this article have rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe I’m over-sensitive about the whole thing given I’m in the area that was recently hit by back to back to back burglaries. We’re doing everything we can to keep trash out of our area and if that means having signs posted to warn others on top of setting up a block watch, then so be it. I’m not going to allow you to make me feel bad or make me feel like I’m a vigilanty because I’m doing what is in my power to protect my home/family and neighbors.

  3. Christine says:

    Everything the Police Chief wrote supports my desire to have a monitored alarm system that the police will respond to directly. There is very little we can do to deter burglary except install alarms. My neighbors are also more likely to see and report a crime if there is an alarm going off….but I will be fined if I have one and am not paying someone outside the city to come if it goes off….

    Alarm systems have improved dramatically and the city can charge us for false alarms. I simply don’t buy that it is the right thing to do to simply tell the citizens we have to pay out of area rent a cops to monitor our alarms going off….or they will fine us for having one if we don’t.

    Alarm systems come with a host of other features that can help our citizens like panic buttons and carbon monoxide/smoke detectors.

    A few months ago we heard what sounded like someone in our home. If we had an alarm, we could have known whether our home had been breached. Instead we had to wait and listen and wonder. I knew the police didn’t want to be called because we thought we might have heard something. It was scary and made me feel like we were on our own.

    I hate guns but I am not surprised some people think they are the best defense of their homes. Personally I would much prefer to have a police force that will respond to alarm systems and has a reputation for doing it quickly.

    Now our dog simply doesn’t get to come out and play with me much because I leave him home to guard the house….he wants a monitored alarm too so he can get off this duty.

    • Erik Robbins says:

      I agree 100% Christine. I do have an alarm system in my home. This includes a fire alarm ( which was the reason we had it installed in the first place). My monitoring company is very fast to respond with a phone call when the fire and entry alarms are triggered. The fire alarm usually goes off when I am cooking:-). I think that allowing residents to purchase an annual permit would help. I think Federal Way does this. I believe it is $50 or so a year. If I am not mistaken it includes 1-2 false alarm credits.

  4. Shari says:

    Sara, I was a little perplexed by some of the information, too–discouraging paranoid reports of strange vehicles vs. being encouraged to call and report strange vehicles, for example. Lots of us share your frustration and concern and it’s great that you’ve gotten your neighborhood together. When I look at the map, I see a whole lot of dots in my own neighborhood, so I hope our neighbors are as eager as yours to band together for a neighborhood watch. We’ll see. As far as patterns go: I’m not sure how fine the resolution is on the map, so this may be an inaccurate observation, but it seems as though in the GH area, there are more ‘dots’ near corners/intersections…?

    Just saw a Burien Citizens Patrol vehicle …was initially really encouraged, but when they drove past our house, the driver and passenger were so engaged in conversation with each other that they weren’t even looking at houses–just at each other as they whipped past. I think I pretty much could have been at my front door with a sledgehammer and a brass band and they wouldn’t have noticed…so once again, I guess the Block Watch approach really is super important.

    Erik, I’m not sure of the protocols for the blog related to identifying vendors, etc, but if it’s acceptable, maybe you could share the name of your security company…

  5. Coverofnight says:

    Regarding this subject, Rainycity, Sara and Christine are great Americans. I join you in helping to make this a safer community.

  6. Erik Robbins says:

    City council……. Hello……. All I hear are crickets. Thanks for the help?

  7. Theresa says:

    Welcome to Burien. Now you all know what the residents in north Burien have to deal with on a daily basis, but since our homes aren’t worth as much as yours, no one ever hears about it. I have yet to hear the City Council address anything when it comes to issues like this. I HIGHLY recommend the Citizens Police Acadamy to any Burien resident. I believe it’s held twice a year at the poilce station. It’s a wealth of information that empowers you to take back your neighborhoods, and educates you on how to protect yourself, family, and property within the law. We have more power than we think we do, and until we use it, we’re sitting ducks because it’s only going to get worse with the type of people that are moving into our community.

    • Greg Duff says:

      Theresa, I could not agree with you more. I just graduated this week from the Citizens Police Academy. I am amazed at how much I did not know about the King County Sheriffs Office. The many officers who taught the course are dedicated hard working professionals. With the many cutbacks in the county, the course is only taught once a year now. To find out more, contact Sgt MacLaughen at the Burien Police Department. I might also mention that the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class is going to be held in September for 8 weeks. It is well worth looking taking.
      One of the groups that spoke at the Citizens Academy was the Burien Citizens Patrol. These are graduates of the Citizens Police Academy and are volunteering their time to help make our community safer. If more people volunteered to spend some time working in our community, we could take back our neighborhoods from the thugs and make it a safer place to live.
      Our crime rates will decrease only when we stop talking about it and start taking action.
      Knowledge is power so get informed.

      • Sara says:

        Thank you both for the information! I was not aware of either program but will definitely be looking into both now.

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