Seattle business owners say they are struggling with a lot of drug fueled crime

SEATTLE - Bernie's Automotive along Leary Way NW in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood has a problem they alone cannot fix.

“We had them break into our shop, we had three cars stolen,” Will Ingle said.

All you have to do is give manager Will Ingle 15 minutes to understand the level of crime he's experiencing on his auto shop`s property.

“I've had hundreds of batteries stolen,” Ingle said.

The small business has lost tens of thousands of dollars over the years. It's a big hit for a small business.

“Got to work in the morning, opened the door, there were two naked guys in the back of this car,” Ingle said.

He's not done.

“I've got a guy lit on fire across from the shop, we had one motor home catch on fire behind our building and almost burn our shop down,” Ingle said.

Not to mention all the gas that has been stolen. Like the time someone damaged a car to siphon one gallon of gas that cost the business more than $3,000 to replace.

“It keeps me from giving my guys raisesm it keeps me from expanding, it keeps me from fixing my parking lot,” Ingle said.

Ingle says many of the criminals are living in RVs nearby.

“There is a new group of homeless people coming into town,” Ingle said.

But for Ingle and many businesses, the issue is no longer a homeless problem. It’s a drug problem.

“One person selling the drugs the other's buying the drugs. They are doing whatever they can to get their money, to get their fix,” Ingle said.

It`s not a hunch, Ingle says he sees people selling and doing drugs right in the open.

“They don`t hide anything anymore. They can do whatever they want in front of everybody, they aren't being punished,” Ingle said.

But on Monday night during a town hall meeting in North Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan addressed concerns about public safety. She also mentioned that overall crime is down across Seattle. In fact it`s down by 12 percent city wide compared to the same last year.

“It`s definitely not here in Ballard,” Ingle said.

Ingle doesn’t need stats to know that crime is out of control in Ballard. Although crime is down in other neighborhoods, Ballard is seeing an increase. That’s why Durkan launched the city’s pre summer emphasis program to give seven neighborhoods, including Ballard, the extra attention and resources it needs.

Ingle hopes it will make a difference.

“We call police on a weekly basis,”Ingle said.

On Tuesday we noticed more police presence in Ballard as part of the city’s new strategy to fight crime. On Wednesday, SPD will be answering questions in front of city council about the pre-summer emphasis program.

As for people living in RVs, from 2017 to 2018 that was a 46 percent increase. Those people are considered unsheltered.

The latest numbers of people living in RVs will be coming out later this month.

As for the overall unsheltered population, we had a decrease from 2018 to 2019. The number of people went from 6320 to 5228.