Family is suspicious of homeless encampment at Seattle park after home burglarized four times

A thief broke into a Seattle family’s home, not once, but multiple times within the last 30 days. Now, the family feels unsafe in their own home and says a nearby homeless encampment may be the reason for the rise in break-ins. 

The most recent burglary happened Friday overnight in the city’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. 

"It was a violation. They came into my house unannounced, uninvited and started stealing from me," said Maxwell Hirsch, whose home was burglarized.

Hirsch and his younger sister live in the home. Surveillance video captured a thief breaking into their house and stealing their belongings. He said a crook has invaded their home four times within the last two weeks by busting through a window—the first time breaking the glass, the next few times knocking down the plywood installed until the window was replaced.

"I feel honestly helpless. What am I supposed to do in these situations?" said Hirsch.

Hirsch said fortunately, he and his sister weren’t hurt during any of the break-ins. Not only did the criminal steal most of his power tools, an electric bike and their sense of security, but something special was also taken.

"My Les Paul guitar that my cousin gave to me when I was 15 years old. I’ve had that for half my life. There are some things that can’t be replaced," said Hirsch.

Hirsch filed a report with Seattle Police Department, hoping it could help find the culprit. He said he suspects a homeless encampment near Sturgus Park, just steps away from his home. That site is also right by a larger encampment under the 12th Avenue Bridge.

"These people need help and they’re not getting help. They’re becoming more and more desperate and it’s us the residents, the homeowners, the law-abiding citizens who are paying the price. And that’s just unacceptable," said Hirsch.

A representative with the Office of Mayor Bruce Harrell said they are aware of the encampment near Sturgus Park and visited the site earlier in the week. The official said there were several encampments in the vicinity.

The mayor’s office explained, "The Unified Care Team regularly meets to determine which encampments will be addressed next, considering City resource capacity and a variety of factors, including shelter availability, impact to public space and the natural environment, pedestrian access, pending construction, public safety incidents and verified SPD and SFD data, and more."

Seattle police crime data showed there are 174 burglaries in the Beacon Hill neighborhood so far in 2022. Hirsch said his neighbors were also recent victims—their cars were broken into and some of their catalytic converters were also stolen.

With the string of burglaries and thefts, Hirsch is getting better security for all of his windows and adding more surveillance cameras. However, he said he worries if that’s enough.

"If they disregard that like they’ve disregarded the cameras before, what am I supposed to do? Does Bruce Harrell expect me to arm myself after these break-ins? Am I going to have to use force to defend myself and defend my family?" said Hirsch. "If they can’t do something about this, I can’t live in this area anymore. I’ll have to move."