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Seattle Man Steals Excavator to Build Cabin in the Woods

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This is one of those “only in Seattle stories.”

Police arrested a homeless man Saturday evening for allegedly stealing an excavator from a nearby construction site.

Neighbor Brian Hartman says he saw the suspect driving the heavy equipment on the street and into a heavily wooded area in Jose Rizal Park.

“He goes ‘I’m building a cabin down here’ and I said, ‘no you’re not!’” Harman

Volunteers from Seattle homeless outreach group, We Heart Seattle called 911.

“Literally the words out of his mouth were ‘I was told I can do this; this is everybody’s land’” Suarez

Andrea Suarez says the criminals know SPD is down hundreds of officers and are taking advantage of the situation. “We live in a no fear, no rules playground and people are doing whatever the h*ll they want.”

At the site the excavator was found, Suarez found a bag full of stolen credit cards, a bag of marijuana, and meth.

Suarez says most of the illicit activity out here is being fueled by drugs. Instead of waiting for city crews, volunteers went in and cleaned up the encampment.

District 2 councilmember Tammy Morales represents the Beacon Hill neighborhood and did not respond to requests for comment.

Neighbor Craig Thompson says Morales’ anti-cop policies are emboldening criminal behavior. When I ask Thompson where councilmember Morales is, he says “I’ve been asking that same question for the last four years.”

Aside from the stolen excavator, this Seattle Parks property is now destroyed. Rare plants and animal species are now at risk of losing this habitat in the Duwamish Green Belt, and there are even more homeless encampments scattered in the deep woods behind the park.

There have been multiple fires in the Green Belt area, leaving encampments burned and sections of the woods full of debris

This is now the second time this year that the We Heart Seattle team has helped recover stolen heavy equipment in a homeless encampment. In May, Andrea Suarez and her team removed a stolen forklift from the woods.

“Compassionate intervention,” Suarez emphasizes. “At the end of the day, this gentleman will hopefully get connected to resources, psychiatric care, maybe some detox.”

Suarez is asking neighbors to vote in the November city council election if they want to see change in their communities. “Turn your ballots in, read up on your candidates”.

Jonathan Choe

Journalist and Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Jonathan Choe is a journalist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Wealth and Poverty, covering homelessness issues for its Fix Homelessness initiative. Prior to joining Discovery, Choe spent several years as one of the lead reporters at KOMO-TV, consistently the top rated television station in Seattle. His in depth stories on crime and deep dive investigations into the homeless crisis led to measurable results in the community, including changes in public policy. Choe has more than two decades of experience in television news behind the scenes and in front of the camera for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and Tribune. He has also been nominated and honored with multiple industry awards including an Emmy. Choe spent several years teaching classes on emerging media and entrepreneurship to under privileged youth in inner city Chicago. As an independent journalist, Choe also contributes regularly to the Mill Creek View and Lynnwood Times and has reported on exclusive stories in the past year for Daily Wire and The Postmillennial.