Burien resident John White recently had a motorcycle stolen from the garage of his Burien Town Square condo, and shares a detailed, first-hand story on how it was recovered and the suspected thief arrested.


First, here’s surveillance video of the suspected thief taken from the condo garage:

YouTube player

First-hand report:

And here’s White’s detailed, first-hand report of the theft:

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“On this last Sunday afternoon, Feb. 18, 2024, I decided to ride my Piaggio three-wheel motorcycle. In the winter, I don’t ride it very much, but I do take it out once a month just to keep the battery charged up and the engine lubricated.

“I took the bike from my home at Forest Ledge, which is located next-door to Eagle Landing Park in Seahurst, and then later that day, I parked it at the Burien Town Square parking garage, which is below our condo at Town Square Condos in downtown Burien.

“The Town Square Condos are located directly west of City Hall on SW 152nd Street and 5th Ave SW.

“On the basement floor there are 85 parking stalls for the public to use while retail shopping or eating at establishments on the main floor of the building – or anywhere else one might shop or eat.

“To enter the parking area, there is a giant door on the north end of the building that opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. These stalls are not part of the private parking stalls that each condo owner is allocated when they buy their condo. However, when buying a condo, you only get one parking stall so if you have two cars, then one goes in the private parking area and you can either park the other car on the street or you can park it in this public parking area underneath the condo. Those 85 stalls are controlled, not by the condo association, but by the owner of all the retail space surrounding the lower floors of the condo building. Parking is at your own risk.

“Visitors to the Condo owners generally also park in these public stalls. Just get out by 7 p.m. or you will get locked in.

“Nevertheless, many living in the condos, those having two cars, will park one car in this area rather than on the street. There is a margin of safety above parking on the street because the condo association has high resolution cameras posted all throughout the parking area that are recorded and monitored. In addition, since the entry door goes down at 7 p.m. you would think your vehicle is relatively safe after 7 p.m..

“I parked my motorcycle in one of the stalls on Sunday night around 6:00 in the evening. The door was closing at 7 p.m. so I thought my bike would be safe.

“Turns out, a thief walked into the garage, just before the door closed at 7 p.m. Surveillance cameras show that he was carrying some kind of a special toolbox. Within seconds he had the motorcycle running, but the door had closed so he couldn’t get out. However, there is a button on the wall that you can push that will open the door. This thief obviously knew the building. He simply got off the bike, walked over to the wall, pushed the button, the door opened, and he rode away with my motorcycle. he did this Sunday night after only about one hour after I parked the motorcycle.

“Monday morning (Feb. 19) I got up and headed to work so I went downstairs to get on my motorcycle but it was gone. This being the fourth time in the last couple of years that either my car or motorcycle has been stolen, including two previous times out of this same condo garage. However, this time was going to be different.

“I remembered that I had hidden an Apple AirTag on the motorcycle, in a place that would be almost impossible to find. I pulled out my cell phone, tapped on the “Find My” app, and it showed the motorcycle was sitting inside of a garage in a house on 5th Ave SW and SW 128th Street, which was only about two minutes away. The technology is so accurate it actually listed the home address. Even more, it showed the bike in the garage of the house.

“So I called the police and gave them the address and they drove over to the house to retrieve the motorcycle, but the homeowners would not open the garage and release the bike.

“They told the police they could walk around the house, but without a warrant, they could not search the garage. The police asked me to meet them at the Goodwill on SW 128th Street where they reported to me they could not recover the bike without a warrant and then issued me a case number and drove off.

“As you can expect, I was pretty pissed off because I was looking on my phone and could see my motorcycle was clearly in the garage of this house.

“I decided to go to the house myself and knock on the door. A woman opened the door. I asked her to please return the motorcycle. She told me the same thing she told the police, she said there was no motorcycle in her garage, but I was welcome to walk around the house and see if I could find one.

“I showed her my phone that clearly showed the motorcycle only 10 feet from where I was standing. She said goodbye and closed the door. I left but was boiling.

“At that point, there was nothing for me to do but wait to see if the motorcycle was moved from the house and then follow it using my AirTag tracking app.

“I waited, thinking that maybe the thieves were in the garage, searching every speck of the motorcycle, trying to find the tracking device, but knowing they would never find it.

“I drove past the house every 15 minutes hoping I would witness a move. I knocked on neighbors doors but not one neighbor was home.

“I was pretty sure that they would move the bike rather than face a possible warrant to enter the garage.

“Sure enough, about an hour later, the bike was on the move and the “Find My” app showed it was in Dottie Harper Park.

“You see, the way the AirTag system works, anyone that walks by it with an iPhone will detect the AirTag and broadcast its location. This means everyone with an iPhone is also an AirTag sensing receiver and transmitter. What a wonderful technology.

“I rushed over to the park but I couldn’t see anything so I walked into the park with my iPhone, tracking the location of my motorcycle. Suddenly, behind the trees I saw a small tent with a guy standing next to it that matched the video taken from the Condo cameras. Beside the tent was a black tarp, covering my motorcycle.

“I called 911. The police came and arrested the thief. The officers released the bike back. I used my spare key to start it.

“There are a lot of takeaways here but one thing I recommend to everyone reading this story – if you have something that can get stolen, put an Apple AirTag on it. I would not recommend knocking on doors or approaching a thief directly. However, it’s a wonderful thing to recover something you place a high value on and if we all use this technology, crime may go down in Burien.

“Thank you Burien Police for arresting this individual.”


“Some folks are going to read this and just say ‘who cares about this entitled old, white male, and his fancy motorcycle‘ and I thought about that, and actually decided at one point not to write this story. But then I started thinking about the folks that would suffer badly if their mode of transportation was stolen from them. Transportation is so important, and when it’s taken away from you, it can devastate, so my message is not about being some old, entitled white male that successfully retrieved his motorcycle.

“AirTags are very inexpensive and if you want to protect your mode of transportation, or any other piece of property that you value, then invest in some AirTags, because the technology can help you, help the police, and eventually lead to less crime in Burien.

“Do you know the city spends $40,000 a year hosting public seminars on how to deal with crime and everyone goes to those meetings and expresses their opinions with Post-It notes, but nothing ever improves. Anyone attending those meetings knows that it’s a waste of time. Why not skip the $40,000 seminars and buy a bunch of AirTags and hand them out to the citizens in Burien that need them? I say the same thing for Ring cameras. Those were the cameras that identified the thief in this incident. Those cameras created video evidence of this guy, necessary information for police and prosecutors.

“Please note this person had two prior warrants. Every single business in Burien and every single resident in Burien needs a Ring camera and should be provided one free of charge from the city of Burien.

“How about we skip the $40,000 bullsh*t seminars and start doing things that work, like supplying Ring cameras and AirTags?”

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Below are photos from the surveillance camera as well as the moment of the suspect’s arrest in Dottie Harper Park:

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

4 replies on “Burien resident says ‘AirTags Solve Crimes,’ shares personal story of his stolen motorcycle being found & suspect being arrested”

  1. I am very glad you got your motorbike back. I am impressed with your persistence and willingness to take some risks to do so. No one should be able to steal and just go about his/her life as if they had done nothing wrong. I am also appalled at all the people who were accessories to this and did nothing to help you recover your stolen property. However, a cautionary statement is that Airtags are also used by abusers and stalkers to track their victims so care using them is important. Good for you, John. Hopefully, no more vehicle thefts for you–you’ve had your share.

  2. Two prior warrants. People in the Pacific Northwest have completely lost their freaking minds. I tell all the criminals to head to Seattle and Portland and the whole I-5 corridor to commit crimes. It pays and pays and pays.

  3. Well a ring camera is about $60 plus monthly subscription price and one apple air tag is about $25 plus you have to have a apple device to use them then times that by 50,000 people and it gets a little expensive and understandable of why the city has not done this . Then you have politics that play roll as in if the city stops all the crime or a good chunk of it then the police don’t get the same amount of money for their budget the next year. Then what where this guys warrant’s for probably non violent crimes that the D.A offices won’t press full charges on due to COVID and keeping jail inmates from catching COVID then suing the state and where they transferable or are they king county warrant’s . Back 25 years ago when i was in high school i knew a few bad kids that had a few warrants but the police never caught up to them unless if they got caught for something else and the police happen ran their name on statewide system then it would come down to what area the warrant was from and if was transferable if was a juvenile or adult warrant then it would depend on if that are wanted to process the warrant if a kid stole a candy bar or pack of smokes vs a stolen car at gun point . But at least they got this guy now and hopefully they hold him but is was a non violent crime so he is probably out on bail now . Waiting for a court date that he won’t show up for and get another warrant . From the court document’s john might want to lock up his stuff a little more this guy might have your other homes address and knows you have nice stuff.

  4. Such a fiasco, but good in the end. Burien PD clearly went further than surrounding departments and are to be complimented. I gave my husband a set of air tags two Christmas’s ago – now, maybe, he’ll open the package!

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