by Matthys van Leeuwen
The story in the Burien News regarding the increase in crime around homeless encampments is consistent with my personal experience. The theft crime aspect may be to no one’s surprise, but what is truly worrisome is the rampant underage child trafficking and prostitution. From my extensive interactions, I can confirm that this is true and a real issue. Girls as young as 14 years old are sexually active with the adult males in the community. There are instances where their parents even prostitute them, but it’s often their adult boyfriends or pimps. Every activity in this community is done to score drugs, and young girls are traded for it, too. What’s even more concerning is that the government agencies involved are aware and not doing anything about it. Calls and intakes at Child Protective Services to investigate are not being followed up and remain uninvestigated.
What is most concerning is that these people are being invited into our communities by community leaders, even a City Council member running for reelection. Isn’t it time to hold them accountable, or are you only getting concerned when the next camp is moving into your neighborhood?
My Personal Background
Through family matters, lately, we got involved with a homeless drug-addicted individual; as we cared for her and her child, I visited the homeless community frequently and built relationships with many individuals around her. That has provided me insight into how this community of people live their lives. In certain social aspects of life, they are almost completely normal. Many of them are parents, and most of the time, the children are raised by their grandparents. But it also gave me a deeper understanding of the dark sides of their lives, such as how they get their drugs and what activities they undertake to get them. The relationships I built with them opened them up to share intimate aspects of their lives and provided very helpful information as I am writing a book about the aspects we had to deal with and the involvement of a government agency.
This reminded me of the details of a public comment made during the last council meeting. A commenter had been observing the camp at Ambaum Boulevard and noticed a number of activities that might be shrugged off by many, but they are very likely true.
All of the people who live at these camps are drug addicted; many of them use fentanyl or even more potent versions of it. Fentanyl is a relatively cheap drug, but it is highly addictive and can be deadly, especially for first-time users. For people who want to get some more insight into the community and fentanyl use, it is highly recommended to watch the documentary called ‘Ten Dollar Death Trip: Inside the Fentanyl Crisis.’ The people in these camps have their suppliers (or dealers for a better term), but what do they do to get it, and how does this impact the directly surrounding community?
The homeless community has their group of friends, and they delegate the tasks among themselves pretty well. There are the people who go out during the day and at night to steal stuff from people’s yards, burglarize homes, and steal cars. The stolen stuff is generally collected at one person’s tent or motorhome, who then often modifies them and sells them on OfferUp, sharing the proceeds. The stolen cars are used to drive around and get drugs – they remove the license plates to avoid getting caught easily and get 3-day license tags regularly. The doors of these cars are always left unlocked, and ignitions are taken out to start the vehicle by connecting some wires. The majority of the males in this homeless community do have multiple possession of stolen vehicle arrests on their records.
It should be to no one’s surprise that they finally concluded (crime analysts told the city manager – likely at a high-charged rate consulting fees) that the community surrounding the camps has a higher crime rate (it takes experts to make simple common sense observations!)