Why is Seattle’s property crime rate so high?

Last week, I crunched recent FBI data showing that Seattle’s per capita property crime rate is #1 among the top 20 cities in the United States. On Saturday, the Seattle Times reported that story on its front page – curiously quibbling that Seattle would be ranked #2 behind Memphis if we analyzed the top 25 cities.

Clearly, we have a property crime problem in Seattle. On Sunday, Pete Holmes, the incumbent City Attorney, who has been in office for eight years, claimed on Twitter that he was proud of his record addressing property crime. No, I’m not kidding.

So let’s review that record. Seattle has the highest property crime rate of any top 20 American city. Seattle property crime has increased since Pete Holmes took office while all national trends have decreased. And, under Holmes, the City Attorney’s office now declines to file a record number of the criminal (non-traffic) cases that they receive from Seattle police. In fact, last year the City Attorney declined to file almost half of all criminal (non-traffic) cases sent by Seattle Police. 


There are many legitimate reasons for the City Attorney not to file individual cases (i.e., insufficient evidence) but when almost half of all cases are declined, that points to a systemic failure – victims do not get resolution, communities are not kept safe, and police officers feel like it’s not worth the effort. 

Earlier this year, KIRO 7 News did an in-depth investigation of what’s going on in the City Attorney’s Office. That report found that many misdemeanor cases weren’t filed for months or even years.


I've got a plan to improve public safety and reduce property crime by transforming Seattle's criminal justice system to focus on meaningful behavioral health interventions:



Seattle needs fresh leadership with a new vision for how to tackle our public safety challenges. That is why progressive leaders, the Seattle Firefighters union, and the Seattle Times have endorsed Scott: "Scott Lindsay has better ideas to address the crisis, and the policy chops to put them in place."