In a year-long sting called Operation Oliver’s Twist, Seattle Police Department’s Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF) and Pawn Shop/Property Recovery Unit caught burglars, car prowlers and other criminal suspects who were selling stolen goods. In 2010, while the rest of the country’s burglary and theft rates decreased by 1.3%, Seattle’s crime rates increased by 3.2% , according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice’s “Crime in the United States” report. “Detective work has also shown that once property is stolen, it is quickly disposed of through pawn shops, illegal fences, other criminals, or well known internet web sites, often far below retail prices, for pennies on the dollar.”
SPD Detective Jeff Kappel writes:
To combat this trend, detectives from the Seattle Police Department’s Major Crimes Task Force and the Pawn Shop/Property Recovery Unit, working with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) and the FBI, set up a storefront fencing operation – a tactic not used by SPD since 1979 – where undercover officers spent 11 months buying stolen goods from suspects for pennies on the dollar, with no questions asked. Business was slow at first with just a few suspects coming into the shop to sell their stolen goods. Within a short period of time the word spread and we established a regular criminal clientele list. During the operation, detectives purchased over 900 stolen items including 146 watercraft, motorcycles and other vehicles, 76 bicycles, numerous stolen computers and personal electronic devices, personal identifications, passports, and credit cards. Operation Oliver’s Twist also enabled officers to remove a number of dangerous weapons from Seattle’s streets. Police recovered 27 stolen firearms during the operation and, in one case, a convicted felon sold military-grade C-4 explosives to undercover officers which would have ended up on the streets of Seattle.…During Operation Oliver’s Twist, the Major Crimes Task Force and Pawn Shop/Property recovery Unit worked closely with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the FBI. The partnership was very successful, with the FBI providing valuable logistical, financial, and personnel support to the operation. This operation has been a great success! The suspects identified during the investigation have proven to be high profile criminals who are known burglars or auto thieves. Since the creation of the Major Crimes Task Force, this innovative squad of detectives has developed unconventional ways of combating property crimes throughout the greater Seattle area.
Operation Oliver’s Twist identified 102 suspects involved in 314 separate criminal cases. Kappel says “The remaining suspects are currently at large and will have warrants issued for their arrest. Six suspects, involved in five separate cases, are facing federal charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.” If you have been a victim of property theft, and your items have not been returned (you must be able to identify the items and have reported them missing before March 5th, 2012), call 206-733-9616 to talk to a detective or leave a message:
Callers must have a police case number with them at the time they phone detectives. Please note that the items posted here are the only items that were recovered during the operation and there is no other property to view. Some recovered property has not been tied to reported crimes due to victims not reporting the crime or not having property serial and/or model numbers.