Cops Take Down Big Time North End Burglar

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee May 6, 2010

A 21-year-old man allegedly responsible for burglarizing at least 16 homes in several tony North Seattle neighborhoods over the last two months is facing a stack of charges and a lengthy prison sentence after a tip from a watchful neighbor led police right to the him.

King County prosecutors allege that between March 31st and April 21st, Israel Hernandez kicked in doors at 16 homes in Wedgwood, View Ridge, and Windermere and made off with laptops, Xboxes, Nintendo Wiis, TVs, iPods, and jewelry, which he later stashed at his sister's Tukwila home.

Police finally identified Hernandez as a suspect in the burglaries when a Sand Point resident called 911 on April 16th and said he had seen a man pull black Dodge Caravan into his neighbor's driveway and walk up to the house moments before a burglary alarm went off.

A minute later, court documents say, the man ran out of the house and drove off, but the neighbor was able to get the license plate number on the van, which he gave to police.

Three days later, officers found the black Dodge Caravan parked in front of Hernandez's home near the Seattle/Shoreline border, and had it towed.

When Hernandez showed up to the Lincoln Towing lot at 122nd and Aurora a week later, officers were waiting.

Hernandez tried to make a run for it, put police caught up to him a few blocks away and arrested him.

Detectives in SPD's Major Crime Task Force then served a warrant on Hernandez's North Seattle apartment and recovered a stolen iPod and tv equipment. Police also contacted Hernandez's sister and asked to search her Tukwila home, where detectives recovered TVs, jewelry, computers, a printer, cameras, and other electronics.

Detectives interviewed Hernandez, and while he initially refused to talk to police, he eventually came clean and admitted to breaking in to 15 homes in March and April. Hernandez explained to detectives that he had a list of buyers who would call him to purchase computers and TVs "in quantity."

Hernandez also told police that three "other crews, one Asian," were burglarizing homes in North Seattle, and said he would often buy and sell stolen items to these other groups. Hernandez also claimed other crews would "bring him Apple computers because he knows how to unlock them."

While court records indicate Hernandez told police he was just the driver and that two or three accomplices actually committed the burglaries, prosecutors have filed five counts of burglary against Hernandez.

Court records say Hernandez—who, again, is only 21—has previously been convicted of burglary, obstruction, DUI, minor in possession, and malicious mischief. He is currently being held in the King County Jail on $100,000 bail.

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