Bellevue detectives have arrested a 32-year-old suspect in connection with a series of porch thefts in the Northtowne area of Bellevue. He was captured on dozens of surveillance cameras pulling up to homes, grabbing packages left outside and driving off in a small sized Lime rideshare car.
On July 29, police took Austin Crane of Bellevue into custody on charges of identity theft. Other charges against Crane and his 32-year-old girlfriend are pending.
Two Lime cars were found parked near Crane’s home in the 10200 block of Northeast 17th Street, as a search warrant was executed. Detectives think Crane used both cars — which allows by-the-minute rentals using a cell phone app — to conduct the thefts.
The suspect also frequented social media, watching as neighbors shared videos of the suspect online. He even acquired a Ring device, one used for home video monitoring, to gain access to the Ring social media component where neighbors would share surveillance videos and their crime concerns, said BPD spokesperson Meeghan Black.
“He was quite impressed with his notoriety,” Black said, adding that he also lived in the neighborhoods where he committed the thefts and belongs to the same online neighborhood groups as his victims. He knew who had porch surveillance, but that didn’t deter him.
Detectives recovered stolen mail, passports, credit cards and various stolen packages during their investigation. And police searched a storage locker in Renton that Crane allegedly rented using a stolen identity. There was more than 200 pieces of evidence in total recovered by investigators. Property owners will be notified when their belongings are located and identified, police said.
Other area police departments have seen their own share of criminal activity related to the use of ride-share vehicles, Black said. It’s cropping up in the cities of Seattle and Renton and on the Eastside.