Private patrols underway in Magnolia, is Queen Anne next?

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SEATTLE - Property crimes are on the rise in parts of Seattle. According to police, home burglaries in the area around Queen Anne and Magnolia have increased nearly 60 percent in the last year. Now some homeowners are talking about hiring their private patrol officers.

“I do different sections of magnolia each hour,” says James Toomey.

For the past month, he has been patrolling the streets of Magnolia. He was hired by homeowners in the neighborhood who were fed up with property crimes and open drug dealing and didn’t feel like police were doing enough.

“We’ve noticed from time to time, there are individuals in the neighborhood who shouldn't be in the neighborhood,” says Chris Backman.

Toomey isn’t equipped to make arrests. He says when he sees something suspicious, he calls the police. But sometimes he doesn’t have to.

“It helps a situation, just our presence,” he says. “Seeing us watching them.”

Queen Anne residents are wondering if private patrols could help them. Tonight, they held a meeting to discuss the issue.

Evan Conklin is willing to pay for added security. He says criminals have broken into his business and stolen personal items multiple times.

“I’ve taken 30 thousand dollars of victimization, and I’ve had enough.”

Property crimes are bad enough, but last week a man with a knife tried to steal a car, then threatened officers near Kerry Park. Police were forced to shoot him. Many homeowners say seeing that made them realize Queen Anne is not as safe as it used to be.

“Somebody has to do something,” says retired police officer John Compatore.

“I can understand their frustration, and I understand why they would finally do something like this,” says Toomey. “Having an extra eye out there, having someone actually patrolling their city when there's no one else doing it.”

Queen Anne homeowners did not come to a consensus on whether private patrols are the answer. They say they’ll continue to discuss the issue over the next few weeks.

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