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Chief O’Toole Appoints Lead Investigator to Help Track Stolen Cell Phones

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole has assigned a member of a high-tech SPD team to help patrol officers track down stolen phones.

Effective today, a supervisor in the department’s Technical and Electronic Support Unit will be available to officers around the clock to guide them through the technically and legally complicated process of zeroing in on a stolen phone. Officers will now have a new resource available to help them locate stolen phones and get warrants, as they search for smartphones stolen in robberies, thefts and car prowls.

Chief O’Toole’s directive comes as the department completes a review of how officers, investigators and 911 dispatchers handle property crime reports.

Meanwhile, officers continue to investigate cell phone-related crimes around Seattle through old-fashioned police work.

Officers arrested four young robbers Wednesday night after they attacked a man and stole his phone when he began recording video of a fight near 3rd Ave and Pine St.

After spotting the victim filming the fight, a 12-year-old male knocked the victim into a plate glass window, sending him sprawling to the ground. A 16-year-old female suspect then grabbed the victim’s phone and ran off. The victim tried to chase after her, but a 14-year-old boy knocked the victim to the ground again, where another suspect, a 15-year-old female, began kicking him.

West Precinct officers and Gang Unit detectives were patrolling the area when they came across the robbery in progress. Police arrested the four suspects and discovered the 16-year-old was carrying eight different phones, including the victim’s. During the arrest, one of the female suspects complained to officers of a nagging injury—a gunshot wound sustained during a previous incident.

Officers called medics to the scene to treat victim of the robbery for a bloody mouth, as well as the suspect for her previously sustained gunshot wound. Police then booked all four suspects into the King County Youth Services Center for investigation of robbery

In separate case, a man called police Thursday morning and reported someone had stolen an iPhone out of his car. The man told officers he’d checked the phone’s GPS and followed it to 9th Avenue and University Street, where he called 911.

Officers arrived at the scene and contacted an 18-year-old man at a homeless encampment—near where the phone’s GPS signal last appeared—and asked him whether he was carrying a cellphone. Indeed, the man pulled out the victim’s iPhone and told officers he had purchased it hours earlier from a man he’d met on the street near 3rd Ave and Virginia St.

Police identified the 18-year-old man took info about where he’d purchased the phone, and  returned the phone to the victim.

Officers also contacted SPD theft detectives about the case, which remains under investigation.