If you are a petty thief who wants to support a drug habit through stealing, or if you just feel inclined to grab things off a shelf and exit a store without paying, Seattle is your kind of town.

A study done on behalf of local businesses and neighborhood groups indicates that nearly half of the criminals caught ripping off small businesses never face charges and that four in 10 of those cases that are brought to court remain unresolved after two years. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes says he cannot effectively deal with the wave of property crime unless he gets more staff and a bigger budget, although, in past years, prosecution rates for these kinds of misdemeanors were much higher even with fewer city lawyers and less money.

There seems to be no sense of urgency at City Hall. Meanwhile, the thieves keep cycling through the system only to get back out on the street where they can continue breaking into cars and shoplifting with little worry that they might have to pay the consequences of their acts.

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