Woman gets mad, then even over theft
By Christine Clarridge
Seattle Times staff reporter
When Pauline Goldmeier pulled up to her Seward Park home last week and saw a group of teens making off with her $500 mountain bike, something snapped.
She'd been the victim of a carjacking, a kidnapping and uncounted incidents of vandalism, but that day she'd had enough.
"They had no idea whose bike they were stealing," said the 41-year-old legal secretary and mother of two. "I've had a lot of things happen to me, and I'm tired of it."
Thirteen years ago, Goldmeier said, she was kidnapped and carjacked on Genesee Street in South Seattle as she picked up her toddler from day care. The man told her he had a gun, forced her into her car and to an ATM to withdraw cash.
Goldmeier, who was four months pregnant with her second child at the time, escaped with her toddler on her lap by jumping out of the moving car.
Her testimony put that man in prison, and, Goldmeier said, "I became very proactive about protecting myself then."
So last week, when she saw her bike being ridden away from her house, she turned her car around and took off after the teens, yelling, chasing them through the streets and, once they'd scattered, staying on the tail of the kid with the bike.
"He was laughing at me," she said, "but I floored it and literally cut him off a few feet from his face. He stopped laughing then and jumped off the bike."
Goldmeier leapt out of the car just as her husband arrived on foot — having been alerted to the drama by their teenage daughter — and the two of them continued their pursuit of the teens with her on the bike and him in the car.
They tracked down a few of the kids, but the kids denied knowing anything. "They lied to my face," said Goldmeier.
When Goldmeier and her husband returned home with her bike, they were able to show police a video surveillance tape taken by the home security cameras they installed last year — after a series of car prowls — that led to the arrest of three of the five suspects.
"As soon as police showed them the video where you can see them plotting and see their faces, they started singing like canaries," Goldmeier said.
The three teens are being held at the King County Juvenile Detention Center for investigation of burglary, according to a spokeswoman with the Seattle Police Department.
The two other suspects are still being sought.
"We do not encourage people to chase after burglary suspects," said Seattle police spokeswoman Renee Witt. "However, people do what they feel they have to do when they are being victimized. We can't tell citizens not to chase after a suspect; we just ask them to be safe and use good judgment.
"In this case, it worked out for these homeowners, and good for them. The fact that they had video footage was awesome," Witt said.
According to Goldmeier and a police report, Goldmeier had gone to pick up her kids from the bus stop on May 14 and neglected to shut the garage door.
When she returned from the five-minute errand, she saw the teens in her neighbor's yard.
One of them was on her bike and another had a fishing pole taken from her garage in his hand, she said.
The teens also had taken her husband's mountain bike from the rack, but they had apparently left it behind because of a flat tire, she said.
Police said in their report that the video showed the teens walking northbound on 57th Avenue South. Two of the teens are caught on tape entering the garage, and one can be seen emerging on the bicycle, wrote responding officer Jason Atofau.
Goldmeier said that not everybody would go to the lengths she has, but she's pleased with herself.
"I feel good because I did this," she said. "Hopefully, those kids won't ever do this again, and people will know it's OK to fight back."