Recent thefts unnerve Ballard residents

SEATTLE -- Nothing seems safe from thieves in Ballard these days.

Crooks are ripping off everything from car wheels, to gumball machines, to donations for desperate orphans.

Neighbors are known to grab a coffee to go from Robertino's. A thief walked off with much more.

"We had a 5-foot gumball machine that stood here," said Lori Riley of Robertino's.

A surveillance camera captured a man making off with it. With his van parked close by, he busted the window and reached in to snatch the $1,500 machine.

"He just quickly grabs it, takes off through the window and throws it in his van and takes off," Riley said.

The thief left behind a mess of broken glass, but it's the community's sense of safety that's truly shattered.

"It's not good for the neighbors," said James Coleman, who has a realty office down the block and recently left his car in the lot overnight.

"I get a call from my secretary in the morning saying, 'By the way, your wheels are missing."'

Coleman has a camera pointed at the parking space, which captured a man taking off with all four wheels. He says the theft is brazen, but doesn't even compare to the problems for one neighbor.

"I think the thing that really ticks me the most is they stole that money from those poor people," he said.

The money was in a donation cup atop a counter at Saleh's Deli.

"We collect money for poor kids, and we send it back home (to Yemen). And we've been doing this for a couple of years," said owner Steven Saleh.

But someone threw a rock through the glass door and took it for themselves.

"Walked in, covered his face from the camera and took this little cup and left," said Saleh.

Ballard business owners have shared their footage with each other and police in an effort to keep a closer eye out around the neighborhood.

Police have not determined whether the thefts are connected.