Police blotter stories: 2020 coronavirus, and 1918 influenza pandemic versions.

If you spend a little time perusing crime reports that ran nearly 102 years apart, a pattern emerges.

Suspects just keep doing suspected things. Same as it ever was.

See how you do in figuring out whether these incidents came from 1918 or 2020.

1) Men wearing flu masks in robbery.

2) Burglars steal 15 liquor bottles from club, then drop them.

3) 4 teens arrested after late-night car dealership break-in

4) Arrest in alleged real estate loan scam

5) Woman cleans car, momentarily steps away, suspect gets in and drives off

+Men wearing flu masks in robbery. From the Nov. 11, 1918, Seattle Daily Times:

“Wearing the regulation influenza masks, two bandits held up a Beacon Hill streetcar near the south terminus at 12:53 o’clock this morning and relieved Conductor P. J. Donnelly of $52.55 ($971 in today’s dollars) . . . There were no passengers aboard . . . The robbers faded into the night . . .”

+After-hours burglars steal 15 liquor bottles from club, then drop them.

From the SPD Blotter of March 27, 2020: 

“On Thursday, at approximately 4:30 am, officers responded to a reported burglary at a cultural center in the 1900 block of Dexter Avenue . . . Officers were able to work with building staff and review surveillance footage to identify the suspects. About an hour later, officers located one of the suspects in the area and detained her.”


According to Kristin Leander, executive director of the Swedish Club, the burglars went in and took 15 bottles of liquor and the small orange juice bottles. “I guess they were planning on mixed drinks?” she says.

A suspect who was apprehended had apparently carried off the bottles in a bleach bucket. The other suspect is apparently still at large.

+4 teens arrested after late-night car dealership break-in.

From the SPD Police Blotter, April 3, 2020: 

“Four juveniles were arrested Thursday night after they were caught fleeing a dealership in South Seattle. Officers were able to determine that the suspects entered the business by breaking a window.

“ . . . officers responded to a commercial alarm in the 100 block of South Spokane Street. (and) observed four males running from the scene. Officers were able to detain all four. The 14- and 15-year old suspects were arrested and later booked into the Youth Services Center for burglary.”

+Arrest in alleged real estate scam. From the Nov. 7, 1918, Seattle Daily Times:


Two suspects who claimed to be real estate agents were charged “with being swindlers.” According to detectives, the two men advertised “to loan money on real estate on behalf of a New York firm.” The complaint said they were advanced sums ranging from $25 to $300 ($427 to $5,100 in today’s dollars) “but upon which no loan was forthcoming.”

+While cleaning car, Skyway woman momentarily steps away, suspect gets in and drives off.

From the King County Sheriff’s Office, April 6, 2020: 

“A lot of people are giving their cars a good disinfecting on a regular basis, which is good to slow the spread of COVID-19. But be careful how you do it.

“. . . a victim had her Toyota Prius doors open and was working on disinfecting the interior of the car . . . At one point the victim stepped away from the car, leaving the doors open and the key in the driver side visor. The suspect got into the Prius, used the push to start, and drove off.

“The car was equipped with GPS, so when the homeowner called 911 deputies were able to quickly start tracking the vehicle . . . Once the driver of the stolen car saw police, he quickly tried to hide in an alley . . . The driver was booked into King County Jail . . .”