Multiple thefts reported at Maple Valley Library

The King County Library System is aware of recent minor theft reports at the Maple Valley Library and is not overly concerned.

“These things happen from time to time in many different communities,” said Julie Brand Acteson, interim Director for King County Library System. “King County is becoming urbanized. Communities are seeing issues they might not have seen before.”

Maple Valley police said a purse, wallet and three bicycles were stolen from inside or outside the building, located at 21844 SE 248th St., the week of May 18th. Some of the items have been recovered.

Acteson said the bicycles were left unlocked and the items unattended.

“Libraries are public buildings and, as such, it is important that people do not leave their personal belongings around,” she said. “In any public space things of that nature can happen.”

Teresa Buettner reported one of the robberies the afternoon of May 21. She said she noticed a teenager watching her inside and outside the building. She said she put her wallet on top of her purse, beneath a table as she printed some papers. Buettner believes the teenager snuck under the table while her attention was diverted and stole the wallet from underneath her.

“I just kind of sensed that somebody is looking at me, and it was the same kid,” said Buettner, who never recovered her wallet. “When I picked (the purse) up, just from the pure weight of it I could tell something was missing.”

Buettner, a Maple Valley resident for 14 years, said this incident hasn’t swayed her belief that she lives in a safe city, but believes the library should have a surveillance camera to assist in these matters.

“Most people come into the library and think that you are safe, and you’re not,” she said.

Detective Jeff Johnson, with Maple Valley Police Department, said he wishes the library would install surveillance cameras, but that police are following up with surveillance from businesses where the stolen credit cards were used.

Johnson said he hopes that these thefts are isolated incidents, but that he is concerned.

“It’s a public place of trust,” he said. “People go there and shouldn’t have to worry about their own personal belongings, when people are there to learn or take advantage of our library system.”

Acteson said very few of the systems 48 libraries have security on hand and she doesn’t anticipate any changes at the Maple Valley branch. Acteson said there are two staff members charged with overseeing the library system’s security.

Acteson said it’s important to stay vigilant in all public buildings — whether in a quiet town like Maple Valley or downtown Seattle.

“We work very hard to keep our libraries safe and welcoming, but we are a public building and all walks of life come into our building,” she said.

Car prowls in Covington

The city of Covington has also seen a slight uptick in car prowls over the last few months, though Police Chief Kevin Klason said there has been no particular pattern. A car prowl is a quick, usually less than two minute, theft that typically involves the smashing of a car window to steal a valuable in clear view.

Klason said the recent area car prowls are primarily occurring on an irregular basis, though there has been a spike lately at a parking area used to access the Soos Creek Trail, at Southeast 256th and 148th Southeast streets. Police have seen three or four of such instances within a day, followed by inactivity for weeks, when the thefts happen again.

“That’s the only place we’ve seen any upswing in the number of incidents,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for this time of year.”

Klason said the sporadic nature of the crimes makes it difficult to invest time or manpower in surveillance. He said most of these are “crimes of opportunity,” where a purse, wallet or electronic item is visible in the vehicle. However, in the latest case nothing was taken, he said, though the glove box and compartments were open. Klason recommends taking all valuables out of the car or, at minimum, locking them in the trunk.

“Leave nothing in view that would entice somebody,” he said.









Reporter Katherine Smith contributed to this story.


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