Early this morning, a Seattle Police Department SWAT team surrounded a red barn on the outskirts of Renton and moved in on a 43-year-old man suspected of pulling a vanishing act with four moving vans full of families’ furniture and sports memorabilia meant for charity.
The string of van heists began on New Year’s Eve 2012, after a couple—who had just moved to Seattle—parked their moving van in front of their new apartment in the 900 block of Dexter Avenue North. The next morning, they awoke to find that their moving van was gone.
Police later found the empty moving van in Maple Valley.
The next case came in March, after a couple preparing to move out of state packed up their moving truck and parked their truck outside of their apartment on 6th Ave and Olive. The next morning, they discovered someone had made off with their moving truck, which was later found (empty) by King County Sheriff’s deputies in Renton.
A month later, on April 28, 2013, police believe the suspect swiped another moving truck, and an attached Acura sedan, from a hotel parking lot in Vancouver, WA. Once again, police recovered the missing and emptied truck near Renton.
Finally, just a few weeks ago, on May 18th, the suspect made off with a van full of sports memorabilia from the Trufant Family Foundation, which was to be auctioned for charity.
Just as in the other three cases, police found the empty moving truck dumped within just a few miles of the suspect’s barn, near SE 194th St and 196th Avenue SE.
Detectives from SPD’s Auto Theft and Major Crimes Units tracked down the 43-year-old suspect after a witness unwittingly purchased stolen computer equipment from the suspect. The witness realized the equipment actually belonged to one of the victimized couples, who were featured in local news story after the suspect stole their moving van.
This remains an active and on-going investigation.