NORMANDY PARK, Wash. -- A pair of suspected mail thieves are now off the streets and behind bars after cops say they found their car filled with stolen mail.
So far detectives don’t yet know just how many victims are involved in the case. The suspected crooks were busted outside the police station late Monday night. Cops believe some neighbors living nearby are likely victims.
Joel Engum received mail on Tuesday but he thinks thieves may have gone through his mailbox the day before.
“We didn’t get any, the mailbox was empty,” he said. “I was kind of surprised at that.”
Engum wasn’t alone; police said the suspects' car was filled with stacks of stolen mail.
Normandy Park Police Chief Chris Gaddis said the type of crime happens everywhere and victims could be scattered across the county.
“Whether it’s in Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, or Kent or Tukwila, whatever police agency happens to stumble across enough evidence to put somebody in jail, surprise, surprise, the crime goes down,” he said.
Normandy Park Police have been busy in 2016, making a dozen arrests ranging from theft to DUI just over the five days.
But last fall city voters rejected a levy that would have funded two officers. Gaddis said he's doing everything he can to keep the remaining officers on patrol.
“We’re trying to streamline our entire department as much as possible to keep our bodies in the field,” he said.
Some neighbors have resorted to crowdfunding on their own to put more cops on the street –- supporters have already raised close to $60,000 online.
Gaddis says that effort, plus some other money from a metro parks district pilot policing program, could mean at least one detective could stay on the job full-time through 2016.
“Our citizens want to see a Normandy Park police car out on patrol, that’s what they want to see,” Gaddis said. “They want to see, know that our officers are out trying to detect and deter crime. “
Engum said he hopes his stolen mail will be returned, but he also hopes his neighbors will vote for a tax increase this fall to put more officers back on the street.
“I want to see them back,” said Engum. “They’re a bunch of good guys but I think they’re overloaded.”
Detectives were waiting for a warrant to search the car filled with mail. Gaddis is hoping the Normandy Police Department would identify some of the victims.
If you think you’ve been a victim of this latest mail theft, call the Normandy Police Department at 206-248-7600.