Seattle men charged in Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland burglaries, could also face charges in Sony Online Entertainment server theft
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
May 11, 2011 · Updated 2:07 PM
An investigation into identity theft and fraud has led to two Seattle men being charged in multiple Eastside burglaries for stealing more than $750,000 in computer and music equipment.
Brad E. Lowe, 36, and Joshuah A. Witt, 34, allegedly used emergency-access key boxes to break into nine businesses in Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland and Woodinville, stealing various types of computer electronics equipment, according to court documents.
The men have also been identified by police in video surveillance during a burglary of Sony Online Entertainment on Halloween 2010 in Bellevue, according to court records. The men have not been charged in that crime but the burglaries are similar as servers were stolen and access was gained using company key cards.
Investigators allege that the two men stole the computer servers from large businesses to gain access to trade secrets, business and personal information on employees and customers.
Charged with six counts of second-degree burglary, Witt plead not guilty and was released on $25,000 bail, while Lowe is being held without bail after being charged with seven counts of second-degree burglary in King County Superior Court. Lowe also plead not guilty to the charges. No trial date has been set for either man but their next hearing is set for June 29.
According to charging documents, Witt started the burglaries on March 7, 2010 in Kirkland, breaking into Alaska Structures, and followed it up with a second set of burglaries last June at Quantum Corp., BizXchange, Blinkx and Numark in Bellevue. Lowe joined Witt in the crimes last November and continued through December. Lowe committed two of the burglaries by himself, one in Redmond and one in Kirkland.
The biggest of the nine burglaries the men were charged in was last November when $500,000 in high end music and computer equipment was taken from Loud Technologies Inc. in Woodinville, according to court documents. Dynon Avionics was the only business burglarized twice. Concur Technologies of Redmond was burglarized on the weekend of Nov. 27-28, 2010 with nearly $300,000 of property stolen.
Concur employees went to the business location to check the computer servers because they weren't able to access their business e-mail accounts from home last November, according to records. The employees subsequently found that the servers were missing and the office was burglarized. The executive vice president of the company told police that he was concerned because the primary interest was not in the physical property but rather the electronic files. Both suspects were positively identified on the Concur video surveillance by police along with many of the other break-ins.
The two men were caught on video surveillance cameras breaking the boxes and using the key or access card to open the businesses' doors, according to court documents.
Detectives from numerous Western Washington police departments, as well as agents from the United States Secret Service executed several search warrants in the Seattle area last December, recovering some of the stolen items in the burglaries, according to charging documents.
The break-in at Sony is identical to the other burglaries in that a key card was used to access the office and two men were seen on video surveillance. A key card was found on the floor of the server room and none of the employees knew where it came from. A knox box on the outside of the building had been removed months prior to the burglary but the key card had since been accounted for.
Sony Online Entertainment had a breach of security in April where 24.6 million Sony Online Entertainment customer names, addresses, e-mail addresses, gender, birth dates, phone numbers, log-in names and hashed passwords may have been stolen. There is no evidence at this time that the two incidents are linked.
In all, 20 burglaries were committed on the Eastside using keys obtained through knox boxes and computers and servers were stolen in each break-in during November 2009 through December 2010. Many of those unsolved cases also had video surveillance that showed two men taking the items.
Investigators say that the men broke into "knox boxes," to gain access to the businesses. The boxes, required by law, are used by emergency personnel to gain access to the premisses in the case of an emergency.Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at email@example.com or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.