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Updated Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 09:01 PM

Break-in at Democratic offices appears to have been routine, police say

By Christine Clarridge
Seattle Times staff reporter

There is no reason to believe the break-in last week at the Democrats' headquarters in Seattle was anything other than a routine burglary, according to Seattle police.

Other than the fact the burglary was discovered on Election Day, there is nothing to indicate the break-in in the 900 block of Rainier Avenue South — where Democrats had set up a temporary election headquarters — was anything other than a "crime of opportunity," said police spokesman Mark Jamieson.

"I kind of feel like if it was for some nefarious purpose we'd have heard from the thieves," said Sterling Clifford, communications director for the Jay Inslee campaign.

According to a police report, the break-in was reported at 5:27 a.m. Nov. 6.

The responding officer wrote that a window of the two-story building had been broken and the office spaces inside were in a "noticeable state of disarray."

He wrote that the office areas targeted had held personal files and "confidential information." In addition, files and video tapes were "rifled through and moved" and a laptop containing personal information was taken. The keys to the building's exterior doors as well as the shredder-bin lockboxes were missing, according to the report.

Numerous other laptops and computers, as well as alcoholic beverages, "were not taken or disturbed," the officer wrote.

"The suspect/s were there to collect specific items but attempted to make it look like a random burglary," according to the police report.

The officer said that an office party had been held the previous evening, with the last participants leaving around 1 a.m. He was not able to determine who those people were, nor why they had not set the building's alarm, the officer wrote in the report.

According to police, latent fingerprints were collected.

The state Democratic Party is waiting for police to finish their work before acting or speculating further, said spokesman Benton Strong.

"It's premature to make any guesses what or why it happened," he said Thursday. "We know offices were broken into and a lot of things were stolen."

"I have no idea if there's more to it," he said.

Jamieson said that without suspects it's hard to determine a motive.

"The officer was speculating," he said of the police report. "Just because things were written in a police report, that doesn't mean that's what happened."

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com.

Seattle Times staff reporter Jim Brunner contributed to this report, which includes information from The Associated Press.


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