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Crime festers at apartments

Speckled along Federal Way’s horizon is a bevy of apartment and condominium complexes, their density and regular stream of new management bringing high crime rates in some cases.

Multiple-unit housing facilities, by nature, draw more crime than single-family residences because they house a higher density of people in one area, said Michelle Landon, Federal Way police crime analyst.

The Federal Way police know this and work with apartment managers and employees to decrease crime in their facilities, said Cathy Schrock, Federal Way police support services manager.

However, the routine change of management at several Federal Way apartment complexes makes creating a dent in crime more difficult, Schrock said.

Federal Way police crime prevention personnel offer landlords and managers at apartment complexes training in how to keep their properties safe places to live, Schrock said.

The Crime Free Multi-Housing program is one method the department uses to prevent crime at multiple-unit housing facilities.

Crime prevention

Those who participate in the program learn how to recognize when a crime is likely to occur and identify when crime has already taken place, Schrock said.

Crime prevention personnel offer landlords and property managers tips on how to screen possible tenants and eliminate tenants who create an unsafe environment, Schrock said. They can also help landlords and managers draft rental agreements, conduct apartment watches and create a sense of community within the complex, according to the city’s Web site, www.cityoffederalway.com.

Information on safe lighting and property design is also offered, Schrock said.

The police department also has a continual outreach to all apartment complexes and their management, Schrock said.

Despite the police’s efforts, some apartment complexes have demonstrated an ongoing problem in crime prevention. Campus Grove Townhomes, 1300 S.W. Campus Drive, and Cascade Ridge, formerly Stonehaven Apartments, 1900 S.W. Campus Drive, are two such facilities.

Campus Grove Townhomes

Campus Grove Townhomes ranked higher than most other apartment complexes in Federal Way in assault, burglary, harassment, malicious mischief, theft, theft of a vehicle and domestic disputes from 2003 to 2005, according to police crime statistics.

Michelle Washington has resided at Campus Grove for a little more than a year. She used to know a friend who lived in the complex and was drawn to the townhomes because they offered a large space for the amount of rent charged, she said. The complex covers a significant area, but the section in which Washington resides is fairly safe, she said.

Campus Grove has its problems though.

“I’ve seen a lot of police out here,” Washington said.

She is aware of the drug activity and gang members that reside in her apartment complex; many of the gang members go to school with her children, she said. Washington used to pick up broken glass bottles and drug bags in the nearby park before it was torn down earlier this summer, she said.

Washington grew up in what she called “the hood” in Seattle, so these activities do not cause her to feel endangered, she said.

“It’s not anything I haven’t seen,” Washington said.

While Washington does not recommend residing in her apartment complex, she enjoys her space there. She keeps to herself and does not interact much with other tenants, she said.

Cascade Ridge Apartments

Cascade Ridge Apartments ranked higher than most other apartment complexes in the city in crimes such as assault, burglary, harassment, theft, theft of a vehicle and domestic disputes between 2003 and 2005, according to police crime statistics.

New management overtook the complex in November 2006. That year showed lower but still significant crime rates, according to the police statistics.

Management at Cascade Ridge has made an effort in 2007 to create a safer environment at the apartments, Schrock said. After acquiring the complex, two guards were hired and police had a regular presence on the property for three months, said one manager, who refused to give her name. Neighborhood watch meetings now occur and management has been in steady contact with the police department’s crime prevention personnel, she said.

Both Campus Grove Townhomes and Cascade Ridge Apartments are located in a section of Federal Way that is comprised of high-density apartment and condominium complexes, Schrock said.

Consistency in management

A key aspect in keeping crime under control at multiple-unit housing facilities is consistent management, Schrock said.

Landlord and management changes frequently at several Federal Way apartment complexes. This leads to variations in rental policy, making it harder to eliminate problem-causing tenants, Schrock said.

“Managers turn over in apartment complexes regularly,” Schrock said.

The job is one that generally does not pay well and requires a lot of work, said Gary May, Campus Landing Apartments property manager. But the frequent turnover fuels crime, and managers need to stick to what was set forth for tenants when they began renting, he said.

May has managed Campus Landing, located at 42420 1st Lane S.W., since 2000. When he began his job, he evicted 16 residents and had one arrested, he said. The move was necessary to keep the apartments safe, he said, adding that the tenants he evicted had large dogs, were sloppy or did not pay rent on time.

In 2006, Campus Landing experienced a total of 15 criminal cases, the most significant being five malicious mischief reports, according to police crime statistics.

“I do have a very iron fist,” May said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

To view crime statistics for other apartment complexes in Federal Way, visit the Police Department Web site at www.cityoffederalway.com/Page.aspx?view=68.

2006 Federal Way high-crime apartment complexes:

1. Campus Grove Townhomes, located at 1300 S.W. Campus Drive, experienced 17 assault, 12 burglary, 13 malicious mischief, 12 theft, 12 theft of a vehicle, 29 domestic dispute and 37 miscellaneous cases.

2. Cascade Ridge, formerly Stonehaven Apartments, located at 1900 S.W. Campus Drive, experienced 15 assault, nine harassment, 14 malicious mischief, 18 theft, 16 theft of a vehicle, 17 traffic offense, 13 warrants, 28 domestic dispute, 26 miscellaneous and 19 traffic accident cases.

3. Club Palisades, located at 2211 S. Star Lake Road, experienced 12 assault, 25 theft, 40 theft of a vehicle, 28 domestic dispute and 27 miscellaneous cases.

4. Crestview West Apartments, located at 27912 Pacific Highway South, experienced 15 assault, 14 theft, 11 theft of a vehicle, 20 domestic dispute and 17 miscellaneous cases.

5. Glen Park at West Campus, located at 952 S.W. Campus Drive, experienced eight assault, 14 theft, 30 theft of a vehicle, 25 domestic dispute and 17 miscellaneous cases.

6. The Reserve, formerly Heights on West Campus, located at 125 S.W. Campus Drive, experienced 22 theft, 33 theft of a vehicle, 11 domestic dispute and 10 miscellaneous cases.

All information reported was gathered from 2006 Federal Way Police Department crime statistic reports.

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