Seattle business owners fed up with increase in 'crash-and-grab' robberies

'Crash-and-grabs" is the new slang for a persistent problem: robbers using a stolen car, usually a Kia or Hyundai, to bust down the doors to a business.

A class-action lawsuit aimed at getting the carmakers to fix their easy-to-hotwire cars isn’t helping either.

One of the latest crash-and-grabs happened Friday morning in Seattle's SODO neighborhood.

At about 2:30 a.m., thieves drove a stolen Hyundai Santa Fe right into their shop and stole some products. The store's manager said this is the second time this has happened this year at the SODO location. The last time, thieves used a car to break into the building was July 31. There have been seven instances like this across Dockside locations.

"This is the most damage I've seen on the front," said Jay Samsa, a nearby business owner. "This has been broken into about four or five times now. This is the most extensive I've seen."

Samsa runs the business across the parking lot from Dockside. He captured footage on his surveillance cameras showing the thieves driving into the store and several people running in.

"It's crazy," Samsa said. "They're getting more and more brazen. I mean, they just put those pilons to prevent that and they just got a smaller car to go in between them.

The cement blocks didn't stop the thieves, and neither did security cameras.


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About an hour and a half before hitting Dockside, this group pulled the same act at Kings Cannabis on Martin Luther King Junior Way.

"A Kia seems the popular thing to be stolen," Samsa said. "I don't know, maybe Kia needs to figure out how to do a better anti-theft on their vehicles."

Kia and Hyundai vehicles have been popular for car crooks. These cars, specifically, do not have push-button ignitions, nor do they have immobilizing anti-theft devices. Thieves can get one started with just a screwdriver.

That led to a class-action lawsuit against both carmakers, potentially valued at $200 million, covering nine million Kia and Hyundai vehicles from the 2011 to 2022 models. Last month, a judge decided not to approve that settlement, stating it fails to provide 'fair and adequate' relief to vehicle owners.

Car theft numbers are so high, local police departments have been handing out free wheel locks to help drivers. Yet, cars keep getting stolen and being used to commit crimes.

"It's really disappointing to hear, to be honest," said Fouad Jreige, owner of Cannazone. "Like a lot of us store owners and small business owners -- we're hearing a lot of this happening and it's just disappointing because we just work so hard."

Jreige is a fellow cannabis store owner and told FOX 13, it's unfortunate shops in his industry continue to be targeted.

"I think there's a big misconception with robbing pot shops," Jreige said. "It seems like it's so easy but at the same time, it doesn't really deserve to happen."

According to the Auto Theft Task Force in Puget Sound, in the month of August, there were 722 vehicles reported stolen in Pierce County and more than 1,600 reported stolen in King County. Doing the math, that's an average of about 78 cars stolen each day.