Lights & Sirens

Go behind the yellow tape with The News Tribune

NOTICE: Lights & Sirens has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Lights & Sirens.
Visit the new section.

Category: Property crimes


Shoplifting soaring? Not around here

News outlets around the country are starting to trot out a new genre of story — “As Economy Dips, Shoplifting Rises.” The News York Times wrote about the phenomenon saying:

Police departments across the country say that shoplifting arrests are 10 percent to 20 percent higher this year than last. The problem is probably even greater than arrest records indicate since shoplifters are often banned from stores rather than arrested.

I ran a quick check on an internal database we keep of arrests and I’m not seeing any huge

Read more »


Prison protesters vandalize local mortgage office

Plywood covered four of the picture windows in the Wells Fargo home mortgage office in Old Town Tacoma on Sunday. Inside a woman with a purple vacuum strapped to her back sucked shards from the carpet.

The vandalism of the storefront at 2215 N. 30th St. appears to be part of a larger social protest rather than a random act of mischief.

Vandals have targeted the San Francisco-based financial services company’s offices and ATMs in several states in opposition to its stake in The GEO Group – a private company that operates prisons including the Northwest Detention Center, a federal immigration lockup on the Tacoma Tideflats.

The News Tribune received an e-mail Saturday, claiming the weekend attack was "done in solidarity with the 13 people recently detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in Shelton, WA and the people recently detained in San Francisco, CA." It’s not clear if any other local branches were hit, but the e-mail only mentioned one.

"They are blinded by their greed and will allow the most dreadful things to arise in their quest for profit," the e-mail continued. "… While the bankers count their money, the jailers in the detention center treat the people inside like subhumans." (The full e-mail is posted after the jump.)

Attempts to reach officials with Wells Fargo and GEO Group’s corporate offices Sunday were not successful. Tacoma police took a phone report on the incident, spokesman Mark Fulghum said.

Wells Fargo owns 8 percent of GEO Group’s stock, making it the third largest shareholder, according to federal Securities and Exchange Commission filings and, a Web site that compiles stock ownership information.

Wells Fargo held more than $51 million in GEO Group stock in its Advantage Small Cap Value fund at the end of September, according to the bank’s Web site.

In July, a study – released by the International Human Rights Clinic at Seattle University’s law school and the Seattle-based group OneAmerica, With Justice for All – alleged mistreatment at the Tacoma facility ranging from excessive strip searches and overcrowding to a lack of due process, the Associated Press reported.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement called the report "a work of fiction."

Throughout the summer vandals have smashed windows, spray painted polemics and destroyed cash machines at Wells Fargo branches in California, Oregon and Washington, according to the September/October issue of Earth First!

The article says a branch in Tacoma was hit June 10 and "stop prisons" was spray painted on the wall. An independent media Web site also listed an August attack in Minneapolis.

Read more »


Copper wire theft, it’s everywhere

This time, it’s Olympia:

The City of Olympia is experiencing an increasing amount of copper wire theft. Copper wire has been stolen from street lights, signals, and storage yards. These thefts jeopardize public safety by disabling traffic signals, roadway lighting, information signs, and other transportation systems. Last week alone, there were three separate incidents of copper wire theft in Olympia.

Who pays for these crimes? Drivers and taxpayers are the ones ultimately harmed by these crimes. Unlike private companies or members of the public who are insured by commercial insurance companies, the City of Olympia is self-insured. Hence,

Read more »


Reward upped in $500,000 construction vandalism

The reward in a $500,000 construction vandalism from last month has been upped to $5,000, Crime Stoppers announced today.

Here’s Stacey’s original story:

Deputies were searching Monday for vandals who carried out a major smash-and-destroy project over the weekend, causing upward of $500,000 damage to heavy-duty construction equipment.

Investigators didn’t know the vandals’ intent but were looking into whether the construction equipment was intentionally targeted.

“That’s a lot of vandalism,” Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. “Somebody had to know how to run and start and operate all of these things.”


Read more »


Auburn police arrest BB gun vandalism suspects

Auburn Police have arrested two 17-year-old males suspected of shooting a BB gun at vehicles and homes in the south end of Auburn.

Auburn police officers began to receive reports just after midnight on May 1 that windows of vehicles and apartments were being shot out by a BB gun. At least two victims witnessed the suspects shooting out windows of their cars and reported the license plate number and suspect description to the police.

While investigating the incident, officers located and stopped the suspect vehicle in the 1800 block of Dogwood St.

Read more »


Man charged for trafficking stolen musical instruments

Pierce County prosecutors have charged a 35-year-old convicted felon with 20 counts of trafficking in stolen property.

Court documents filed earlier this month allege that William George Bullock Jr. pawned 20 instruments stolen from Ted Brown Music. The instruments sold include several flutes, piccolos, saxophones and a couple of clarinets.

Ted Brown Music employees did a six-month inventory at the end of December and discovered that 112 instruments were missing. The manager suspected Bullock in the thefts because he was a former employee and knew the inventory procedures, according to court documents.

After the missing items were

Read more »