Seattle food trucks being hit by thieves, vandals, owners say

SEATTLE -- We know that property crime is having a huge impact all across Western Washington and it doesn’t just impact homeowners or people with cars. It hurts business owners, too.

A group of business owners is coming together to demand change. They say their businesses have really taken a hit with burglaries and vandalism and they could face having to shut down altogether.

You can find the Cheese Wizards food truck dishing out their popular grilled cheese sandwiches all around the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.

“The last six months there’s been a real tidal wave of increased crime. We’ve filed a half dozen police reports in the last six months with three big burglaries,” says co-owner, Bo Saxbe.

Saxbe, along with over a dozen other local food truck operators, wrote an open letter to the Seattle City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan, begging for help in the fight against property crime and vandalism.

Syd Suntha owns Bread and Circuses food truck and restaurant in Sodo.

“Food trucks already a hard business with the margins and the rain in Seattle. And just in the last year, we have seen such an influx in crime from getting our gas lines cut for gas, to breaking in and stealing our cash box, our iPad,” says Suntha.

He says over the course of three to fourth months, his food truck has been burglarized or vandalized 40 to 50 times.

While Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office says they are glad the local food trucks took the time to write and plan to get together to talk about these concerns, Seattle police say they are also taking the time to analyze crimes against food trucks, which is pretty specific.

But this melts down to a much broader issue across Western Washington. Property crime. It’s a problem both business owners and residents face in every neighborhood across our region. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department says in January 2018, their deputies responded to 57% more vehicle prowls and 33% more non-residential burglaries than normal this time of year.

Tacoma police say these are crimes of opportunity and the only people who can really prevent these types of property crimes is ourselves; by taking good care of our belongings. Back in Seattle, people like Syd and Bo, are just trying to take care of business; and stay open.

“It’s a big expense out of pocket. Of course, insurance, fortunately, covers some of it, but we are a little business and we don’t have great insurance in terms of covering big thefts like this,” says Saxbe.

Syd says he’s also considered installing a security fence around his food truck lot. But he says the cost is higher than what he can afford. And he feels crooks could only jump the fence and steal from him anyway.

Seattle police encourage everyone to always report property crime when it happens. They track it and use that information to determine where to concentrate patrols.