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Looters Target The Outlet Collection and Surrounding Auburn Businesses

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On Sunday, looters systematically made their way around the Puget Sound, targeting malls and large shopping centers.  Auburn Police responded to The Outlet Collection at 9:30 p.m., just as looters poured into the city.

Not a Protest. Not Rioting. Looting.

With a soundtrack of loud engine revs, honking horns and shouting, 15th St SW was a chaotic mix of cars racing to the next location to loot or regroup, police, City of Auburn public works trucks and innocent bystanders caught in the fury.

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As in Tukwila and other neighboring cities, looters targeted stores with high-value items like electronics.  Much of the looting and damage occurred in the stores located in the strip malls surrounding The Outlet Collection.

Coastal Farm and Ranch was one of the first locations looters focused. The store was “was vandalized, but a strong police presence prevented thefts. We focused efforts there first because of weapons they have inside,” said Auburn Police Commander Mike Hirman.

Luckily Walmart employees were able to evacuate the store just before the looters poured in. Police secured the store quickly.

“The mall was entered through a corridor hall on the north side of the mall, but no stores were entered. Auburn SWAT quickly entered and cleared the mall of intruders,” said Hirman. “No one was found.”

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Hirman confirmed the following businesses were looted and/or damaged:

  • T-Mobile
  • Universal Nails
  • Fed Ex Kinko’s
  • Sprint
  • Game Stop
  • Coastal Farms
  • Walmart
  • Outlet Collection
  • Starbucks
  • Xfinity
  • AT&T
  • Verizon

This is not necessarily a conclusive list. We have a request in to the City of Auburn Economic Development Department to ensure all victimized businesses are acknowledged.

“There were other burglaries which also involved vandalism throughout the city,” said Hirman, “but at this point, I can’t say it was related.”

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Shortly after the majority of cars exited the city, Covington, Federal Way, and later Tacoma all had reports of looting and vandalism with similar patterns.

Some quick information about the incident:

  • Looters did not engage officers
  • There were no arrests
  • There were no injuries
  • No weapons were stolen
  • No shots were fired
  • No tear gas or smoke was used
  • Officers used Noise Flash  Diversionary Devices. (This has been added after original publication).
  • No K-9s were deployed
  • No shots fired. Officers used Noise Flash Diversionary Devices
  • Bellevue Police Chief indicated looters in Bellevue were gang members. There is no indication of that in Auburn’s incident.

Hirman confirmed that despite the significant police presence responding to this incident, Auburn Police continued to respond to calls throughout the city. “We had other officers responding to other calls, DV’s, burglaries, a stabbing, and a short pursuit of a stolen vehicle with arrests, etc.”

Preparing for Continued Civil Unrest

Like many cities in the region, Auburn is making adjustments and preparations for any similar activity that may happen.  “Now that we know that Auburn businesses are susceptible and targeted, we have an operational plan to deal with potential looters,” explained Hirman. “The problem, of course, is it depends on the numbers. All cities are staying close to home in anticipation of trouble.”

Some of the additional steps Auburn Police are taking is bringing in additional officers, Riot Team members, and SWAT members.

City Response

The city’s “Emergency Operation Center is now activated for both COVID-19 and this event,” shared Dana Hinman, City of Auburn Administrative Director.

“Our city staff, including police, are following the events closely and will be ready to respond as needed,” Hinman continued. “It should also be noted that we are working under a regional response of mutual aid. First responders from around the region are assisting each other as these incidents of looting and violence continue. Police and Fire Chiefs are in close contact as are Mayors, emergency operations personnel, and staff. Many of our staff are taking internal precautions to safeguard our buildings and property as well.”

Auburn’s Curfew

As the incident at the Outlet Collection unfolded, Mayor Nancy Backus issued a curfew order for the city and issued a proclamation of civil emergency.  That curfew order, with an adjusted time frame, has been extended through June 6.

The specific details on emergency orders can be found in the city’s municipal code (click).

To willfully disobey the curfew order may result in a gross misdemeanor (click for penalty information). “Our code states that a gross misdemeanor is, if convicted, punishable by imprisonment in the appropriate city or county jail for a period of up to 364 days and a fine of up to $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment,” said Hinman. “This would be a last resort, however.”

Addressing concerns expressed when the curfew order was issued, Hinman confirmed that the curfew has exceptions should an individual be going to work, walking their dog, or otherwise be out during the curfew but not participating in or near any form of civil unrest. “Also, our officers will first seek to educate and to gain compliance rather than a confrontation or arrest,” said Hinman. “The curfew is designed to keep the community safe until the threat has passed.”

Bigfoot quilts, auburn wa quilt, auburn wa looting, auburn wa riot, auburn wa business
Auburn business Bigfoot Quilts prepares for any potential damage | courtesy photo

Businesses Prepare

Many businesses throughout Auburn are also taking steps to prepare for the potential return of looters.  Sending employees home early and closing stores, boarding windows, and securing valuable items.

Here are some tips for those who may be uncertain what

Auburn Police Suggest:

  1. Please stay out of protest areas that you see turning ugly.
  2. Store owners: please lock up valuables, secures businesses with metal gates, and keep merchandise out of view. If they get something, they will be back.
  3. Don’t put yourself between your store and looters.

Hirman provided an important reminder: this isn’t a game.

 

Update 6/1/2020 7:27PM: The original publication of this article stated no “gas or smoke” was used by officers.  This was a misstatement on our part. The Noise Flash Diversionary Devices used by officers emit smoke when used.

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5 Comments

  1. US CITIZEN US CITIZEN June 1, 2020

    So why not arrests made? If looters decide to target residential areas, how will police react? How should homeowners react?

  2. Branden Branden June 1, 2020

    Ummm, why on Earth were there no arrests? These people need to be arrested and Punished. This cannot be allowed to continue. Why is nobody doing anything? Something is going on that they aren’t telling people…

  3. Jerry Shackles Jerry Shackles June 1, 2020

    Hello, to everyone Black lives do matter ,and also all colors matter also there’s always one bad seed and the new generation sees that crippled the whole nation ,and for the looters there taking advantage of what’s going on hiding behind the mask, and destroying things that matters ,Black lives matter they want peace not violence specially for the guy that died.

  4. Gato Gato June 2, 2020

    Communists protest injustice by denying other people justice.

  5. Denise Kirkpatrick Denise Kirkpatrick June 3, 2020

    I can’t believe you let people steal and damage our cities. And turn a blind eye! What’s wrong with you people! You should all be fired for letting this happen!

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