Burien Police / King County Sheriff’s Office are reporting that they detained three people suspected in a recent mail theft in the 16500 block of Maplewild Ave SW in Three Tree Point (map below).

Police say that on Saturday morning, Feb. 27, 2021 at 5:17 a.m., deputies responded to a 911 call from a resident who heard a commotion near their home.

Multiple officers responded, and deputies located and detained three people suspected of taking mail out of people’s mailboxes.

The suspects were all positively identified and several pieces of stolen mail were recovered.

One of the suspects however had an outstanding warrant and was going to be booked into King County Jail on her warrant. During her interview, she told police that she had tested positive for COVID on Feb. 26. The sergeant was notified and screened the booking. Based on the alleged COVID test information and the fact this was a property crime warrant, the decision was made to not book her into jail. She was released.

Some of the stolen mail items were returned to homeowners, evidence was submitted for processing and officers completed a thorough case report. This case was forwarded to detectives, who will review the case to see if it meets the threshold for referral to the US Postal Inspectors or if it will be filed locally.

Here’s what one neighbor said about this incident:

“A neighbor said that someone happened to be outside taking pictures of the moon when they saw the three suspects along the road and called the police. The three then moved south as a patrol car with searchlights arrived. One of the female suspects hid behind a truck she was prowling while the other two ducked onto a parking platform behind a car and/or stairs. An officer spotted the female by the truck, who prior to getting busted threw the stolen mail over the railing into the bushes. The owner of the house where the other two were hiding heard the commotion and spotted the other two on his cameras and called 911. Four other patrol cars showed up and after a short search found the other two.

“Finally, a win for the good guys – NOT.”

The King County Sheriff’s Office told The B-Town Blog that it investigates all thefts based on the evidence and other factors.

“It would be determined by the assigned detective if the resources of the US Postal Inspector were appropriate in a given case,” Sgt. Tim Meyer told The B-Town Blog. “Unlike KCSO, Postal Inspectors do not have 24/7 resources who can arrest/book subjects. Whatever the theft (mail, shoplifting, etc.), a deputy must be able to establish a burden of proof.”

“I know sometimes people associate not being immediately booked with the lack of police action, but that is not accurate,” Police Chief Ted Boe said in a statement. “We have been in a pandemic for over a year and have had to manage jail populations at both SCORE and the King County Jail to limit the risk of an outbreak in the facilities. As such, we have been asked by King County to prioritize felony bookings, with the direction that bookings should be limited to cases ‘that pose the most immediate risk to public safety.’ In light of that guidance, we evaluate the level of crime, ability to identify the suspects for future prosecution and the danger to the public in making our booking decisions. In this case, it would be difficult to justify the booking based on these criteria, particularly based on the potential for introducing COVID into the custody environment.”

“Mail theft has been an issue as of late and I am pleased that police have identified these suspects,” Burien City Manager Brian Wilson said.