Window-smashing vandals target Belltown businesses

SEATTLE – The Belltown neighborhood near downtown Seattle is under assault by vandals who keep targeting businesses by smashing out their windows.

Over the past three days, at least half-a-dozen businesses have been hit.

Jill Lessig, a longtime Belltown resident, says she worries that the destructive vandalism might signal the beginning of a trend toward more crime in the area.

“If people can get away with this type of petty crime, I worry that the crime will get worse and more violent,” she says.

Seattle police are investigating three cases of smashed-out windows that happened Monday night – all within a few blocks.

Huge boards still cover up the damage at a coffee shop and at an outdoor clothing store down the street.

Some Belltown business owners didn’t necessarily report their damage to police.

“It’s disheartening,” says Alicia Lovell, who has lived in the area for about two years.

Belltown is one of those neighborhoods on police radar. It’s considered a vibrant residential, restaurant and nightclub district, but it can get rowdy – and sometimes dangerous.

The mayor and police chief just announced they’ll significantly increase the number of officers patrolling the streets.

“We want people to feel safe,” says Mayor Mike McGinn.

Some neighbors blame outsiders.

“People who are not invested and who don’t care,” says Lessig. “And who get wild and crazy here, then leave and go home somewhere else.”

She and her neighbors say they hope more police will make a difference.

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