KING 5: Teen is first to be charged in anti-burglary initiative

SEATTLE – Seattle used to be 6th in nation for car thefts until King County prosecutors teamed up with police to target the thieves and send them away for years instead of months. Now prosecutors are doing the same thing with burglaries.

Dr. Bassim Dowidar moved his family over the weekend, after his South Seattle house was broken into earlier this month. It was the fifth time in three years.

Dowidar talked to KING 5 News just before Christmas, about what he called a disturbing trend.

“It seems like the city is painting a rosy picture of crime and for our section of the city it’s not a rosy picture at all,” he said.

On Monday, prosecutors filed charges against James Earl Walker Junior for the most recent break-in at Dowidar’s home and two others in the area.

“His latest spree involved doing occupied homes,” said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. “One woman woke up with him at the foot of the bed, in another case, he took a teen, tied him up.”

Satterberg said Walker Jr. is the first suspect to be charged under the new RBI – or Repeat Burlar Initiative.

“We want to go after the people who do this for a living, We know a small number of people are responsible for the vast majority of the burglaries. If we can pluck them off the street and put them in prison, I think we’re going to see the same kind of success we saw with the car theft,” said Satterberg.

After the car theft initiative got going, those crimes fell 50 percent in just three years.

Sheila Williams, who lives a few houses away from the Dowidars, says she welcomes the prosecutors new push to go after residential burglars.

“It’s letting them know citizens are not going to tolerate it. They’re going to be prosecuted to the full extent if they come try to invade our homes and make us feel unsafe,” she said.

On Monday, detectives from police departments from Federal Way to Bellevue met with the team of prosecutors who will be handling the Repeat Burglary Cases. By bundling multiple crimes together they hope to get sentences as long as 10 years, instead of what might be as little as 10 months. And because one burglar can be responsible for as many as 100 burglaries in a year, they say just a few convictions could make a big impact.

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