Street robberies on the rise in Seattle

SEATTLE -- Seattle police say they’re seeing an increase in armed and strong-arm robberies of pedestrians. They say they seem to be “crimes of opportunity,” where thieves get away with cell phones or purses.

“We don’t believe it’s the same group of people,” says police detective Renee Witt. “There seem to be a number of different groups that are going around committing these robberies.”

The thieves are targeting different neighborhoods throughout the city. Last week, police had a meeting in south Seattle to alert residents to the robberies that have happened there.

“I almost had an incident where I thought (I) was going to be (robbed), but I live in Rainier Beach,” says Sarafina Kariuki. ”So it’s kind of expected, it comes with it, I just have to be ready, I guess.”

“They’re cleaning up the area but it’s not all the way clean yet,” adds Donyetta Sanford.  “So I don’t walk by myself.”

Police say some of the recent robberies have taken place when victims were waiting for the bus or train, and they were distracted. We’ve all been guilty of burying our head in our phone, and putting on our headphones and tuning out the rest of the world. But police say that’s one of the reasons robberies are on the rise.

“Basically these criminals, they sit and watch who are not paying to their surroundings, they may be chatting on their cell phone, listening to their music,” says Witt. “You’re making yourself a very easy target.”

Kariuki says she only uses one headphone when she listens to music, “I keep it down so I can hear what’s going on around me.”